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Defense bill OKs more than $100 million for two Air Force bases in Oklahoma

Projects to prepare Tinker and Altus Air Force bases for new refueling plane are part of a defense bill advanced Thursday by the U.S. Senate
by Chris Casteel Published: December 18, 2013

More than $100 million in construction projects at Tinker Air Force Base and Altus Air Force Base would get the green light under the defense bill advanced Thursday by the U.S. Senate.

A major portion of the proposed construction would be in preparation for the Air Force's new aerial refueling tanker, the KC-46A. Altus will host pilot training for the plane, while Tinker's repair depot will maintain the engines and airframe.

Tinker would get nearly $9 million to acquire a parcel of land and build a road and fence near the Tinker Aerospace Complex, while the Altus base would get about $31 million for a simulator facility and other related work.

The KC-46A, made by Boeing, is too big for existing facilities at Tinker, according to the Air Force; it's 52 feet high, about 165 feet long and has a wingspan of nearly 158 feet. New maintenance docks will have to be built on the land being acquired. The first planes are expected to arrive for routine maintenance at Tinker in 2018.

Altus is expected to get eight of the tankers and begin training in 2016.

The Air Force plans to acquire 179 KC-46A aircraft to replace KC-10s and KC-135s. The new tanker has more refueling capacity, improved efficiency and increased capabilities for cargo and medical evacuation, the Air Force said. It will provide aerial refueling support to the Air Force, Navy, Marine Corps and coalition force aircraft.

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by Chris Casteel
Washington Bureau
Chris Casteel began working for The Oklahoman's Norman bureau in 1982 while a student at the University of Oklahoma. After covering the police beat, federal courts and the state Legislature in Oklahoma City, he moved to Washington in 1990, where...
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