MacDill Air Force Base won't be receiving the latest and greatest tanker aircraft, despite a lobbying effort by local leaders to land a KC-46 fleet in Tampa.
U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor announced Wednesday that the first new tankers would instead be based out of bases in Oklahoma, North Dakota, Kansas, or Washington State.
The KC-46, designed as a replacement for KC-135s like those based at MacDill, is not expected to enter service until 2017.
Castor (D-Tampa) and other community leaders launched a MacDill Means Mobility campaign last year to showcase the base's strengths in hopes of securing the new planes. She said Wednesday that the effort was not wasted because the Air Force assured her that the base, which also houses Central Command and Special Operations Command, remains a priority.
"We came together as a community to champion the strengths of MacDill and advocate for new jobs and economic opportunities," Castor said. "We knew we had tough competition. Fortunately, the Air Force is committed to the current Air Mobility and tanker mission at MacDill and the existing KC-135 planes are a priority. That's good news for MacDill's future and for our local economy. Some bases will not be so lucky."
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