After celebrating more than 60 years of KC-135 depot maintenance at Tinker Air Force Base the time has come to transition to the newest of the Air Force's aerial refuelers.
In July 2016, the United States Air Force, alongside Oklahoma and Oklahoma City officials, formally broke ground on the Sustainment Campus for its incoming fleet of KC-46A Pegasus aircraft.
The Air Force ultimately intends to replace its fleet of aging KC-135 Stratotankers in a three-phased effort, beginning with the KC-46A Pegasus.
According to Boeing, the KC-46A aerial refueler boasts 62,000 lbs. of thrust with a wingspan of 156' 1", a165' 10" fuselage length, and height of 52' 10". Boasting 65,000 lbs. maximum cargo capacity the aircraft also has an impressive 212,299 fuel capacity.
Constructed on a Boeing 767 airframe, the Pegasus is taller, longer and has a larger wingspan than the 707-based airframe of the KC-135 Stratotanker. The larger, more sophisticated aircraft requires new hangars and facilities for depot maintenance.
In 2016, the Tulsa District, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers embarked upon a multi-phase construction project to support the maintenance operations for the KC-46A at Tinker.
Construction is expected to run through fiscal year 2029, with final construction providing hangar space for 14 separate KC-46A aircraft.
"It's a great opportunity to see an entire project build out all at once for a new platform having that complete campus as one progressive project being done phased throughout the fiscal years gives us a unique opportunity to build something from scratch," said Isabelle Rico, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Tulsa District, resident engineer.
"Usually you're trying to fit stuff in where you can and that has its drawbacks. Building in a consolidated area gives us synergy and gives us the opportunity to plan well and execute well. It's nice to have a clean slate and it's a faster, cleaner, more organized process," added Rico.
As Rico puts it, "The sheer magnitude of the project brings something to the community from the standpoint of the labor it brings. I think anytime you bring a new platform to a community it adds to the surrounding economy."
Currently construction is underway on one-bay and two-bay hangar facilities as well as a KC-46A systems integration laboratory.
Work on the one-bay maintenance dock began in September 2016, with an estimated completion date of February 2019.
Final cost on the single bay facility will be just under $35 million.
The two bay hangar currently under construction is scheduled to be completed in September 2019.
Total cost on this facility will be nearly $121 million.
The system integration laboratory is expected to have a total cost of more than $12 million and is projected to be completed in March 2019.