Tinker AFB acquires land for KC-46A maintenance
Tinker Air Force Base officials announced the acquisition of 158 acres of land on the west side of the base to create a depot maintenance facility for the Air Force’s next-generation aerial refueling aircraft, the KC-46A Pegasus.
The land purchase was made possible through a joint effort of the U.S. Air Force ($8 million), the City of Oklahoma City ($23.5 million) and Oklahoma County ($12.5 million). The land was formerly owned by the Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway Co., where it operated a rail yard that primarily served the former General Motors manufacturing facility. The Greater Oklahoma City Chamber led a coalition of local and state government to support the acquisition.
“Tinker Air Force Base has been a cornerstone of our economy for decades, and the Greater Oklahoma City Chamber is dedicated to supporting Tinker as well as the jobs it represents for our residents,” said David Rainbolt, chairman of the Greater Oklahoma City Chamber and CEO of BancFirst Corporation. “This is an example of what can be accomplished when community leaders work together to support the future of Oklahoma City.”
Prior to selecting the 158-acre property as the location for its KC-46A depot operations, the Air Force evaluated a number of potential sites both on and near Tinker AFB. After extensive review, the service determined that this property would be the best value for the taxpayer and would also increase the base’s security by incorporating land between disconnected portions of the base, connecting all of the base’s property.
“The property adjacent to Tinker Air Force Base is not only the best value for our taxpayers, but it also places KC-46A operations in one centralized location on the base, making it easier for them to provide the airpower our nation relies on,” said Kathleen Ferguson, principal deputy assistant secretary of the Air Force for Installations, Environment and Energy. “Our air refueling fleet is critical to our ability to reach any corner of the globe quickly, and Tinker plays a vital role in that mission.”
Lt. Gen. Bruce Litchfield, Air Force Sustainment Center Commander, also lauded news of the agreement. “Our Air Force’s global mission is underpinned by our ability to air refuel when and where needed,” said Gen. Litchfield. “For more than 50 years the KC-135 Stratotanker has supported our Air Force mission across the world. Since this Eisenhower-era aircraft was introduced into the fleet, Tinker has been home to KC-135 sustainment and maintenance. The modernized KC-46 replacement tanker will support Global Reach, Power and Vigilance for generations to come.”
The general added, “For Tinker, it’s safe to say that supporting the KC-46 represents the bedrock for the next 50 years. Acquisition of the current rail yard property allows the development of a highly effective and efficient maintenance and repair operation that will realize substantial taxpayers savings over the life of the system.”
Tinker officials stressed that the acquisition would not be possible without the continued support of the installation’s community partners. The City of Oklahoma City and Oklahoma County provided a combined $36 million to enable the acquisition. The 1,321 new jobs created through this project will be enrolled in the Oklahoma Quality Jobs program. Legislation passed last year will allow those incentive payments to go back to the City and County on a pro-rated basis to reimburse their investment in this job-producing infrastructure.
Gov. Mary Fallin heralded the project as a prime example of how Oklahoma works together for economic development and for the support of our nation. “Tinker has such a critical role in supporting our military,” said Gov. Fallin. “Oklahomans recognize the importance of the base and the workforce at Tinker to our economy. I applaud everyone involved for their perseverance in bringing this complicated project to fruition.”
Oklahoma City Mayor Mick Cornett agreed. “This work exemplifies how our community’s support of this base is unequaled in our nation. Time and again over the past 60 years we have shown unwavering support of the missions – and the men and women who perform them – on this base. Each time we make these investments in Tinker, the base and the community are stronger.”
Construction on the property is scheduled to begin later this year, with the first KC-46A arriving at Tinker in 2018. During construction, an estimated workforce of 350 people will be required for the construction of the maintenance facilities.
The KC-46A campus will eventually support an estimated workforce of 1,321 maintenance personnel.