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MacDill Chills As Fiscal Cliff Holds Up New Tanker Decision
Posted Dec 18, 2012 by Howard Altman
Updated Dec 18, 2012 at 07:40 AM
MacDill Air Force Base will have to wait a little longer to find out if it will be on the short list of bases to get the new KC-46 aerial refueling jets, according to U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor (D-Tampa).
“The U.S. Air Force has advised me that due to the sensitivity with the National Defense Authorization Act and the fiscal cliff, the Pentagon intends to hold off on any major announcements, including the KC-46 Tanker basing decision,” Castor said in an email to MacDill Means Mobility, the group of local leaders she heads up to bring the tankers to town. “I believe the U.S. Air Force is still hoping to have the Tanker Basing Candidate list out prior to the end of the calendar year, so stay tuned.”
Castor in September sent a letter to economic development and business leaders who have been working to help sway the Air Force to select MacDill as one of the sites to host the new planes, which will eventually replace the Eisenhower-era fleet of KC-135 Stratotankers. MacDill has 16 of those jets.
“The Air Force was on track to announce the base candidate list this month until the announcement this morning,” Castor wrote. “The Air Force advised that it has delayed the decision to sometime before the end of the calendar year.”
The Air Force delayed the initial cut because it is still gathering data, said spokeswoman Ann Stefanek. She added that the Secretary of the Air Force has yet to determine just how many bases will be named in this second round. MacDill is one of more than 50 bases around the country are vying to become the first main operating base as well as a training unit. MacDill is seeking. The operating base would bring 36 jets to the base, and the training unit eight, according to the Air Force. MacDill is ineligible to seek the second main operating base because there is no Air National Guard unit there as required by Air Force guidelines.
Stefanek said that delaying the basing decision has no effect on whether the tankers will be built and delivered.