In response to the Department of the Air Force’s selection of MacDill Air Force Base (AFB) as a candidate location to host the next active-duty main operating base for twenty-four KC-46A Pegasus aircraft on May 13th, the Tampa Bay community stood up the MacDill Means Mobility Task Force. Leaders from the South Tampa Chamber of Commerce, Tampa Bay Chamber, and the Tampa Bay Defense Alliance met with Congresswoman Kathy Castor and her office to coordinate support across the state and the Tampa Bay community for basing the KC-46 at MacDill.
“MacDill is the ideal location for the KC-46 tanker aircraft, and we are working together to ensure that the Air Force understands the advantages of basing the tankers in Tampa,” said U.S. Representative Kathy Castor (FL-14). The support for the outstanding MacDill personnel by the Tampa Bay community is well known across the Department of Defense. We embrace the Air Mobility mission and the outstanding men and women who serve here. I will continue to advocate for MacDill to be chosen as the primary location for the next Air Force KC-46 MOB alongside the MacDill Means Mobility Task Force and our bipartisan Florida congressional delegation.”
The group of leaders agreed to stand up the MacDill Means Mobility Task Force to focus and deliver a strong message to the Air Force showing how MacDill Air Force Base, the Tampa Bay community and Florida are the ideal location for the Air Force’s next KC-46 operating location. “It’s inspiring to see so many of our community leaders coming together for the common good of supporting MacDill Air Force Base and the servicemembers stationed there. By securing the new mission MacDill will further position itself as a lead installation not only for the armed forces, but also as a strong economic driver for the Tampa Bay community,” said Bob Rohrlack, President and CEO of the Tampa Bay Chamber.
The MacDill Means Mobility Task Force will be chaired by South Tampa Chamber of Commerce CEO Kelly Flannery who also serves as the Honorary Commander of MacDill’s 6th Air Refueling Wing. “We are thrilled that the Air Force is considering MacDill and the Tampa Bay region to host the KC-46 and believe that our base and community deliver the best fit for the Air Force. Tampa Bay and Florida’s unrivalled support for military servicemembers, their families, and our veteran community makes MacDill that much more appealing. We invite anyone in the community interested in supporting our advocacy for MacDill’s selection to join us on the task force.”
According to the Air Force News Service release, if selected, MacDill would be slated to receive twenty-four KC-46 airplanes to replace its current KC-135 fleet in 2026. The KC-46A brings many enhanced capabilities over the legacy KC-135, including boom and drogue refueling on the same sortie, worldwide navigation and communication, airlift capability on the entire main deck floor, receiver air refueling, improved force protection, and multi-point air refueling capability.
“MacDill AFB is literally and culturally central to Tampa Bay,” said Donna Huneycutt, President of the Tampa Bay Defense Alliance. “Tampa is the birthplace of Hiring our Heroes’ Military Spouse Professional Network and the first and largest military-spouse owned companies. Our troops vote about Tampa with their choices; they overwhelmingly embrace Tampa as their hometown even after leaving active duty.”
Site surveys have been conducted at each of the candidate main operating bases this summer and each has been assessed for operational requirements, potential impacts to existing missions, housing, infrastructure, and manpower. The selected location is expected to be released in fall 2021.
If interested in learning more about the MacDill Means Mobility Task Force, please contact Kelly Flannery at [email protected].