Forbes flies into race for new aircraft

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Emily Alley
  • 190th Public Affairs

The 190th ARW is among the final competitors to be named the first Air National Guard KC-46 Wing.

"If we are selected to receive the new tanker, it will expand our potential for new missions," said Maj. Gen. Lee Tafanelli, Kansas adjutant general. "Tankers perform air refueling missions vital to the security of our nation. We already perform aero medical evacuations for wounded military personnel and can deploy expeditionary medical support mobile hospitals quickly in emergency situations. There are many new possibilities that come with these new capabilities."

The new aircraft would replace the half-century old KC-135s that are meticulously cared for by the 190th ARW. The wing has already demonstrated the capability to fly and maintain similar aircraft, said Col. Ron Krueger, wing commander.

"This new tanker would be a natural fit for us because we have the facilities for it, extremely skilled airmen, and we know this mission," Krueger said. "Whether operating and maintaining the KC-46 or continuing with the KC-135, we have a strong future supporting the United States and coalition air power across the globe."

Aside from the wing's background, there were several attributes that earned it consideration as a finalist. Forbes Field has excellent facilities and is well-situated on air refueling tracks.

"Kansas is centrally located, reducing the flight time to either coast," said Tafanelli.

Other finalists include Pease AGS, NH; Rickenbacker AGS, OH; Pittsburgh IAP, PA; and Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, NJ. Forbes Field may complete for three additional KC-46 assignments, if not selected for the first.

Representatives from Air Mobility Command and National Guard Bureau plan to tour each base before announcing the selection in spring of 2014. After the Air Force selected the 190th as one of the five finalists, Krueger expressed gratitude to all Airmen who helped take the wing to that stage.

"Congratulations to all on being recognized for the value we bring now and in the future," he wrote in response to the announcement.

While the wing awaits a site visit, Krueger emphasized that being selected as a candidate base means more than just the possibility of a new aircraft. It's an opportunity to demonstrate the quality of the Airmen of the 190th to a national audience.