HARRISBURG, Pa., Jan. 11, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The U.S. Air Force announced Wednesday that the Pennsylvania National Guard's 171st Air Refueling Wing located at the Pittsburgh International Airport is one of five finalists to potentially receive a new tanker mission.
"Not only is 171st Air Refueling Wing well-suited for this mission, it is in an advantageous position by being located on the Pittsburgh International Airport," said Governor Tom Corbett. "The airport provides them low-cost capabilities not found at other military bases or civilian airports such as firefighting services, snow removal, runway maintenance, and a fully staffed control tower.
"Additionally, flights from that airport can reach 70 percent of the U.S. population in less than two hours. That point alone is an argument for its cost-effectiveness and national security," Corbett said.
Finalists will now be surveyed for future basing of the new KC-46A tanker, which will have multiple capabilities including cargo, passenger and patient transportation in addition to its primary role of aerial refueling.The other National Guard base finalists include: Forbes Air Guard Station, Kan.; McGuire Air Force Base, N.J.; Pease Air Guard Station, N.H.; and Rickenbacker Air Guard Station, Ohio. "In its more than 50-year history, the 171st Air Refueling Wing has flown 16 different aircraft and eight different missions so it's safe to say they are accustomed to, and welcome, change," said Maj. Gen. Wesley Craig, Pennsylvania adjutant general. "We look forward to showcasing our unique aerial refueling capabilities and hope that the Air Force awards Pennsylvania with this new mission." The preferred site is expected to be announced this spring with a final decision made by the Secretary of the Air Force in spring 2014. The selected site will begin receiving the KC-46A tankers in fiscal year 2018.