Leaders across Florida cheered the U.S. Department of the Air Force announcing it has decided to designate MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa as the Main Operation Base for 24 KC-46 Pegasus tankers.

“The decision was made after conducting site surveys that assessed locations based on factors related to mission, infrastructure capacity, community support, environmental considerations and cost,” the Air Force announced. “Twenty-four KC-46As will replace active duty KC-135 Stratotankers at MacDill AFB. The new tankers will bring many enhanced capabilities, such as boom and drogue refueling on the same sortie, worldwide navigations and communication, cargo capacity on the entire main deck floor, receiver air refueling, improved force protection, and multi-point air refueling capability.

“A final basing decision will be made after an environmental impact analysis, which is expected to take place in fall 2023. Fairchild AFB, Washington, is considered a reasonable alternative and will also undergo an environmental impact analysis,” the Air Force continued.

Still, leaders from the Sunshine State claimed victory last week.

“Today’s decision by the Air Force further solidifies Florida as the most military-friendly state in the country,” said Gov. Ron DeSantis. “I look forward to seeing the job growth and economic impact these state-of-the-art aircraft will bring to the Tampa area.”

“Under the leadership of Governor DeSantis, our state continues to make US military operations not only welcome, but integral to the fabric of Florida,” said Marc Adler, the resident and CEO of Enterprise Florida, Inc. “Today’s decision will have positive impacts on the Tampa Bay area for years to come and is the culmination of an incredible partnership between the state of Florida and the Tampa Bay region to support the men and women of the U.S. Armed Forces.”

“I want to congratulate the entire Florida Defense Support Task Force and am proud to stand with the governor and the many Florida leaders who supported MacDill Air Force Base’s bid,” said Dane Eagle, the secretary of the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity. “We will continue to support the growth of our military, military families, and military communities and help provide meaningful job opportunities throughout the state.”

“Florida caters to the needs of military families more than any other state,” said state Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran. “We offer military families myriad opportunities to experience a high-quality lifestyle and world-class education along with numerous resources, accommodations, and services that we provide to our military families to make their lives and their transition to Florida easier than any other state.”

On Capitol Hill, U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor, D-Fla., led efforts to base the KC-46s at MacDill.

“I am thrilled that MacDill was chosen to be the new main operating base for 24 KC-46s Pegasus aircraft. The patriotic Tampa Bay community embraces the mission and the outstanding men and women who serve here. Tampa is “tanker town,” and we are thrilled to upgrade our tankers and cement the air mobility mission at MacDill for decades to come,” said Castor.

“There is nowhere in the country that supports its military community more than Tampa Bay,” said U.S. Rep. Gus Bilirakis, R-Fla. “We recognize MacDill as a key community asset and support the men and women stationed there who bravely serve our nation. This new program will serve as an important catalyst for continued economic development and we welcome it to our area.”

“MacDill Air Force Base is proud to be chosen to become the next preferred location to host the KC-46 Pegasus. The selection ensures that the 6th Air Refueling Wing will provide next generation aerial refueling support and AirPower for our nation’s defense for decades to come,” said Col. Benjamin Jonsson, the commander of 6th Air Refueling Wing at MacDill Air Force Base.

“On behalf of the MacDill Means Mobility Task Force, we are thrilled that the Air Force has chosen MacDill Air Force Base to host the KC-46. Tampa Bay and Florida’s unrivalled support for military servicemembers, their families, and our veteran community makes MacDill the perfect home for this new squadron. With a premier location for global power projection and global reach, MacDill is ready for the KC-46,” said Kelly Flannery, President & CEO, South Tampa Chamber of Commerce.

Kevin Derby
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