Almost Time to Start Thinking About Tanker Beddown

Air Force Secretary Michael Donley told lawmakers Thursday that the service will begin looking at the first beddown of the KC-46A aerial refueling tanker “later this year,” but he cautioned that a full basing plan for all 179 tankers could take “over a decade to play out.” Donley told members of the Senate Armed Services Committee that he doesn’t want to “tie the hands of future commanders” by committing to a particular location too soon, so the service likely will revisit the issue every couple of years. “There are a number of tanker bases that are interested in getting in on the first block. We understand that and we will work through this process very diligently,” Donley said. Just as with the F-35 strike fighter beddown, the Air Force will most likely consider the needs of the Air National Guard and Air Force Reserve Command as it decides where the first tankers should go, he said. (See also Air Force Picks Boeing Tanker and Cleared for Takeoff)