ALTUS, OK (KSWO)-Altus Air Force Base reached a huge milestone today with the dedication of the first and only U.S. Air Force KC-46 new formal training unit campus and the activation of the 56th Air Refueling Squadron.
The "Forging the 46" ceremony was a way for the community and officials to come together to honor and support this new era for the Base. Officials unveiled two of their new facilities that will be used for training. Governor Mary Fallin joined local lawmakers from Congress and the state capitol today in Altus, to show their support for the Base. Training will begin immediately in the new facilities before the KC-46 is even on the ground. The plan is to have crews ready to go and fully prepared by the time the plane arrives in January in Altus.
Decades of hard work and dedication is finally unfolding and coming into play for many officials in Oklahoma. U-S Senator Jim Inhofe says bringing in this new fleet is exactly what Altus has needed for many years and with the hard work that is done at the base, it's deserved.
"You're in the Altus area, Southwest Oklahoma because of the good job they did in attracting the KC-46. Keep in mind one thing. While the training for the KC-46 is going to take place here, the maintenance is going to take place at Tinker Air Force Base. So this is a great thing for the state, not just Altus, but the whole state," said Inhofe.
Senator Inhofe says he's kept Altus Air Force Base and its list of improvements at the top of his priorities because he knows how much it means to the citizens.
"If we didn't have the community's support, we would have lost this a long time ago. Economically, If you would extract Altus Air Force Base from Altus, it would be very sad. They're dependent upon it. They do a great job," said Inhofe.
Governor Mary Fallin says the air Base also plays a crucial role in helping the City of Altus develop and prosper. Over 370 million dollars are annually brought into Altus from the base and over 250 jobs are open for just the training purposes for the KC-46. She says this will open more windows of opportunity for the city.
"Pending the arrival of the KC-46, this will bring more jobs, more investment into Oklahoma and certainly, I think secure the future of Altus Air Force Base," said Fallin.
Governor Fallin says the support the city gives to its military is why the future of Altus and the Air Force Base is so bright.
"Time and time again adding new things like the KC-46 and the 56th refueling activation is because of the community support, that so many people from Altus, hundreds of people from Altus come up to support our military men and women who give so much to this great nation," said Fallin.
Tomorrow, Altus Air Force Base will be celebrating the 60th anniversary of the older KC-135 refueling plane that the KC-46 will be replace. They will gradually phase out the KC-135, but will train all new members on the KC-46's.