TAMPA, Fla. — MacDill Air Force Base will become home to the new KC-46A Pegasus aircraft.
The Department of Defense chose MacDill AFB as the sixth main operating base for the new fueling tankers, U.S. Rep Kathy Castor announced at a news conference.
There will ultimately be 24 new modern tanker aircraft at the main operating base in Tampa.
This decision came after site surveys were conducted assessing locations based on "factors related to mission, infrastructure capacity, community support, environmental considerations and cost," the base wrote in a news release.
The DOD will begin infrastructure improvements and later confirm MacDill AFB as the new main operating base over the next year, Castor explained.
"We will be able to maintain the mission of MacDill Air Force Base for decades to come...," she said.
Crews and mechanics from the AFB will also have to go through new training for the tankers, Commander of MacDill AFB, Colonel Ben Jonsson, explained.
The base has been reportedly using 24 KC-135 Stratotankers since the late 50s when former President Dwight D. Eisenhower was in office and needed an upgrade.
These new tankers replacing the old is the "first phase in recapitalizing the U.S. Air Force's aging tanker fleet," the U.S Air Force explains on its website.
"With greater refueling, cargo and aeromedical evacuation capabilities compared to the KC-135, the KC-46A will provide next-generation aerial refueling support to Air Force, Navy, Marine Corps and partner-nation receivers," the AF wrote.
Within the next few weeks, there will be a site activation task force coming to MacDill AFB doing an "in-depth study" for military construction and specific requirements to bring in the new aircraft, Jonsson explained.
So what exactly does the KC-46A Pegasus do?
It is an aircraft used for refueling.
According to the Air Force, the Pegasus will be able to refuel most fixed-wing, receiver-capable aircraft at full operational capability.
The aircraft has a refueling boom which is driven by a fly-by-wire control and can also accommodate a "mixed load of passengers, aeromedical evacuation and cargo capabilities," the AF wrote on its website.
When comparing the KC-135 Stratotanker to the KC-46A Pegasus, the newer tankers offer "significantly increased cargo and aeromedical evacuation capabilities," Aeroweb explains. The KC-46A is equipped with the "latest and most advanced technology."
Find more information on MacDill AFB here.