A California air base has been named the preferred site to base 12 KC-46A Pegasus refueling tankers, the U.S. Air Force announced.
The dozen aircraft would replace aging KC-135 Stratotankers at March Air Reserve Base in Riverside County, California, the service said.
“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 USAF said in a statement.
The service said it expects to make a final basing decision following an environmental impact analysis, which will take place in fall 2023. Other potential base locations include Grissom Air Reserve Base in Indiana and Tinker Air Force Base in Oklahoma.
The KC-46A—which represents the Air Force’s first phase of recapitalizing its aging tanker fleet—is capable of refueling most fixed-wing, receiver-capable aircraft, as well as airlift up to 65,000 pounds of cargo.
“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,” the Air Force said.
The Air Force began flying the aircraft in early 2019 and under its current contract, is set to receive 179 copies of the air-to-air refueler.