- Associated Press - Friday, May 1, 2015

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) - Preparations for a new line of KC-46A tankers are keeping construction workers busy at McConnell Air Force Base in Wichita.

Sixteen military construction projects are underway at the base, with a total estimated cost of $267 million. Ben Davis, project manager with the Kansas City district of the Army Corps of Engineers, says the projects are on schedule.

McConnell was selected in 2013 to be the first active-duty base in the country to receive new KC-46A tankers, which will replace its aging fleet of 1950s-era KC-135 refueling tankers. The base will eventually receive 36 of the new tankers.

In addition to housing the planes, McConnell will also serve as a regional training center for the tankers. Only two other US bases are scheduled to receive KC-46A planes, and one of them, Pease AFB in New Hampshire, is under McConnell oversight, said Lt. Col. Brian Backman.

“We have over 200, 300 workers here just for the hanger projects alone, and they’re using the local hotels, renting property here, using the local restaurants,” 1st Lt. Daniel Calvario, the civil engineer lead for construction related to the KC-46A, said. “McConnell has probably not seen this in 50 years, as to how much construction is going on on base all at once,”

The Wichita Eagle reports (https://bit.ly/1JednSe ) the first three hangars for the tankers are scheduled to be completed by March 2016 at the latest, with the following three completed about a year later.

The base currently houses 59 KC-135 tankers, which makes it the world’s largest KC-135 base, according to a statement from the base. Those planes will eventually be retired as the new tankers arrive.

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Information from: The Wichita (Kan.) Eagle, https://www.kansas.com

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