Pease Airmen celebrate KC-46A selection

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Erica Rowe
  • 157th Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs
U.S. Sens. Jeanne Shaheen and Kelly Ayotte, U.S. Rep. Carol Shea-Porter and members of the 157th Air Refueling Wing gathered Sept. 7 to celebrate the selection of Pease Air National Guard Base as the Air Force's first Air National Guard-led KC-46A Pegasus main operating base.

Pease was selected as the preferred alternative in May 2013 and announed as the main operating base Aug. 8 after the Air Force completed the environmental analysis required by the National Environmental Protection Act to provide further information concerning the basing process.

"I'm very excited," said Senior Airman Sean Wood, 157th Logistics Readiness Squadron Vehicle Maintenance technician. "I've been in [the Air Force] for almost six years and I'm excited to continue my career following behind a new mission capability."

Pease's strategic location, infrastructure and total force integration made it the ideal candidate as the first guard unit to acquire the next generation tanker. The tanker's mission will include air refueling, cargo delivery, and aeromedical transportation, providing many opportunities to airmen and the local community.

"It's a monumental occasion for the state of New Hampshire, the 157th Air Refueling Wing, and it's especially important to the seacoast community," said Staff Sgt. Ryan O'Connor, 157 ARW Command Post controller. "It will provide jobs and economic growth. It's a great thing for us."

O'Connor, who was promoted to his current rank a day earlier, was one of many Airmen gathered inside a hangar that will house the new tanker. Members of the congressional delegation and senior military leaders thanked Airmen, present and past, for their hard work and contribution to the accomplishment.

"You are receiving this new tanker for the simple reason that you are the best," said U.S. Sen. Kelly Ayotte during her comments to members of the wing. "We are incredibly proud of you and your efforts."

Over the last twenty years, you have remained flexible and steadfast to the changing needs of the base, said Brig. Gen. Carolyn Protzmann, New Hampshire Air National Guard commander.

Protzmann cited Pease's yes attitude while tackling base closure, the tanker task force, numerous deployments and the active-duty association, something Air Force officials cited as a contributing factor when the base was announced as the recipient last month.

"And now, you have said 'yes' to the KC-46," said Protzmann. "We did it -- again. Congratulations and well done."

The first aircraft are scheduled to arrive at Pease ANGB beginning in fiscal year 2018. The formal training unit and first main operating base will begin receiving aircraft in fiscal year 2016.

The KC-46A will provide improved capability, including boom and drogue refueling on the same sortie, world-wide navigation and communication, airlift capability on the entire main deck floor, receiver air refueling, improved force protection and survivability, and multi-point air refueling capability.