Altus Air Force Base breaks ground for new Pegasus aerial tanker - KSWO 7News | Breaking News, Weather and Sports

Altus Air Force Base breaks ground for new Pegasus aerial tanker

ALTUS AIR FORCE BASE, Okla._Altus Air Force Base broke ground Thursday as they prepared for construction to make way for a new kind of aircraft.

In April, it was announced that the base would train the crews for the new KC-46A Pegasus aerial tanker. Air force officials said Altus was chosen because it would require less new construction and since there is already a training wing at the base, less active-duty manpower would be required.

Officials said the Pegasus aircraft, in time, will replace the half-century-old KC-135 Stratotankers. The city of Altus will also see a boost to their economy as more than 500 airmen, their families, and students are expected to head to the base.

With that kind of growth, Altus Mayor David Webb is expecting big things.

"Economic development is the big component. In Altus we have had a little bit of a flat sales tax. We are excited to see a little growth and add some business," said Mayor Webb.

97th Air Mobility Wing Commander Colonel William Spangenthal says they are ready for this mission.

"I can tell you the whole base is excited. From the aviators, to all the support group personnel, to our maintainers, they are thrilled to see a new platform," said Col. Spangenthal.

Officials said the base is expected to get two of the Pegasus aircraft in 2016, even though it's still under development. Colonel Spangenthal said the plane does a lot more than just refuel other planes midflight.

"It will offer up airlift movement and medical evacuation, but it also brings in an element of survivability that our tankers don't have today so the across the board capabilities of this platform really make it a game changer for our nation," said Col. Spangenthal.

With the ground breaking ceremony Thursday, both sides could let out sighs of relief.

"We are a better community because of the base,” said Mayor Webb.

"The future of Altus Air Force Base looks bright...looks brighter by the day. As we add another platform here, great things await Altus Air Force Base."

Officials said the base will eventually have at least six Pegasus aircraft, but could get up to eight.

Air Force officials said they will have replaced less than half of the current tanker fleet when the program ends in 2028. They will still be flying over 200 of the Stratotankers by 2028 as well.

 

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