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KC-46 construction projects continue

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  • By Airman Erin McClellan
  • 22nd Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs
The first home of the KC-46 Pegasus is taking shape through ongoing construction projects here, totaling $267 million.

“We’re smack-dab in the middle of, and approaching the end of the overall construction program,” said Capt. Daniel Gartland, KC-46 Program Integration Office chief of design and construction. “Here in the next six to eight months, we’re going to have the bulk of these projects completed and McConnell will be ready for the [KC]-46.”

Some of the projects, which began when officials broke ground in 2014, are already completed and ready for use. They include: renovations to operations group buildings to allow them to hold three additional squadrons; a technical school dormitory that will house 48 students for the Regional Maintenance Training Facility; the first phase of a flight simulator project, which will yield three simulators; upgrades and reconfigurations to 24 spots on the parking apron to allow it to fit the larger size of the KC-46; and repairs and upgrades to taxiway foxtrot.

The first of the next-generation tankers is scheduled to be delivered to the base in 2017. The new aircraft will eventually replace the Air Force’s aging KC-135 Stratotanker fleet, but before that can happen, bases need to be equipped to support the mission of the KC-46.

“The big deal for us in PIO is to do everything we can to facilitate allowing these projects to finish on time, and also, as much as possible, make sure there’s no substantial adverse effects to our day-to-day operations,” said Gartland.

Currently, there are nine active construction projects, which include the one, two and three-bay hangars; the Regional Maintenance Training Facility, where KC-46 crew chiefs will be trained; an expansion to the mobility bag storage facility; a fuselage trainer, which is a model of the aircraft used for training; and upgrades to the current deicing system to accommodate the bigger aircraft.

The one and two-bay hangars are expected to be completed in the fall. The deicing pads are set to be finished shortly after. Both projects are large milestones for the overall program.

“We started the deicing pad project in May,” said Gartland. “The project needs to be done by winter; it’s actually going to allow McConnell to do winter [operations] with the KC-46 in an environmentally friendly, responsible way.”

Although the construction program has hit minor bumps along the way, such as weather and manning problems, the project seems to be going well so far, said Gartland.

“With any construction, there can be challenges, but particularly with military construction, there’s a lot of rules the Air Force has to abide by,” said Gartland. “This program has gone along very smoothly. We haven’t had any significant issues, just normal delays.”

The construction and the arrival of the KC-46 will be a big change for members of the base, however, they aren’t the only people being affected.

“This has definitely benefitted the community; a lot of the material they used for construction came from the local area, as well as the manpower,” said 2nd Lt. Haley Renner, KC-46 PIO chief of design and construction.