Air National Guard renovates hangars to house new KC-46A tanker aircraft arriving next fallBy KIMBERLEY HAAS
Union Leader Correspondent
December 13. 2017 11:27AM
PORTSMOUTH — The Air National Guard is preparing to receive KC-46A aircraft next fall.
Lt. Col. Greg Heilshorn said the 157th Air Refueling Wing will be the first Air National Guard unit to get the new refueling tankers.
The unit, stationed at the Portsmouth base, services aircraft over the ocean and foreign territories in support of ongoing ground combat missions.
Heilshorn said $32 million is being spent on facility improvements. Two hangars are being renovated for the new tankers, and a new flight simulator will help pilots train for flying the aircraft.
Officials broke ground for the renovation of the hangars in 2015 after it was announced Pease beat out 82 other bases as part of the selection process. The base’s strategic location and performance of the 157th Air Refueling Wing were cited as reasons why they were chosen.
Work was halted on the hangars in December of last year due to contract issues with Cutter Enterprises, LLC. The company VERTEX has since taken over the work, and construction recently resumed.
Heilshorn said they are optimistic the first hangar will be ready in time for the arrival of the first KC-46A, which is scheduled for September. The second hangar is expected to open in October of 2019, Heilshorn said.
The base is scheduled to receive a dozen new aircraft in total, Heilshorn said.
On Tuesday, U.S. Sen. Maggie Hassan, D-NH, said as governor she was proud to advocate for the U.S. Air Force to base the KC-46 at Pease, and in the Senate she continues to work with base leaders, members of the congressional delegation and the Department of Defense to ensure the Guard has the support it needs.
“The servicemen and women of the 157th Air Refueling Wing at Pease Air National Guard Base are committed to keeping our country safe, secure, and free, and the KC-46 air refueling tanker is a critical tool in fulfilling that mission,” Hassan said.
U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-NH, said she is pleased to see the process move forward.
“The KC-46A Aerial Refueling Tanker program is an important investment in our military readiness and in New Hampshire’s regional economy. As the Air National Guard prepares for the KC-46A to take flight from Pease, I’ll continue to fight for New Hampshire to play a role in prioritizing our national defense capabilities,” Shaheen said.
According to military.com, the KC-46A tanker is intended to replace the oldest of the U.S. Air Force’s KC-135 Stratotanker fleet.