Air Force prepares EIS for KC-46 beddown

By Michael Marrow / November 15, 2022 at 12:19 PM

The Air Force is readying an environmental impact statement to evaluate the effects of opening a main operating base for a KC-46 reserve component, according to a Federal Register notice posted Nov. 15.

Officials have identified March Air Reserve Base, CA as the preferred alternative, with Grissom ARB, IN and Tinker Air Force Base, OK as reasonable alternatives. The beddown will base 12 KC-46 aircraft at one installation to recapitalize aging KC-135 tankers, the notice says.

The Air Force first announced an original pool of six basing candidates in May 2021 for the reserve component, which was narrowed to the three alternatives in January 2022.

The basing candidates were revealed along with sites for a new, active-duty component whose EIS process launched in April. Officials selected Macdill AFB, FL as the preferred alternative for that component, which would beddown 24 KC-46 aircraft.

The Air Force is evaluating all three reserve candidates equally to assess social, economic and environmental impacts associated with the beddown, which are estimated to be “less than significant or mitigable to less than significant,” according to the notice.

The public scoping period for the beddown is now active and will close Dec. 21, the notice reads. Officials then plan to release a draft EIS in summer 2023 and a final EIS in spring 2024.

A record of decision would subsequently be approved no sooner than 30 days after the final EIS is released, the notice adds.

An ROD for the beddown will likely come over a year before the KC-46 is planned to be fully operational. KC-46 manufacturer Boeing and the Air Force are still working on delivering a fix for the aircraft’s long-troubled Remote Vision System, which the service announced last month will be delayed again to October 2025.