WASHINGTON — The activation of an Air Force Reserve pilot training squadron at Altus Air Force Base is a positive development as the southwest Oklahoma base hopes for the assignment of the next generation of air refueling tankers, Sen. Jim Inhofe said Wednesday.
Inhofe, R-Tulsa, who had been seeking the establishment of a reserve unit at the base, said the activation Wednesday of the 730th Air Mobility Training Squadron doesn’t guarantee Altus will be assigned some of the KC-46 tankers being developed by Boeing.
Still, he said, “it certainly moves us in that direction.”
The KC-46 will eventually replace the KC-135 Stratotanker; some of the aircraft are expected to be available for pilot training by 2015.
The 730th trains students from active-duty Air Force, the Air Force Reserve Command, the Air National Guard and more than 15 foreign countries on the KC-135 and the C-17 Globemaster III.
Inhofe, a senior member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, said, “This activation remedies the fact that the 97th Flight Training Wing was the only wing in the 19th Air Force that did not have an associated reserve unit.”
Col. Anthony B. Krawietz, commander of the 97th Air Mobility Wing at Altus Air Force Base, said the new squadron “brings a legacy of excellence and adds an incredible element of breadth and depth to our flying operations. … This will strengthen our operations mission and build on the already wonderful ties with our community.”