McConnell Air Force Base expansion project brings in revenue on site and in town

MCCONNELL, Kansas – Construction has been going on for some time now at McConnell Air Force Base. They’re working to make the KC-46-A tanker its new home. We got a sneak peek at the work in progress.

The Air Force plans to purchase 179 KC-46-A to modernize the Air Forces aging KC-135.

McConnell will get 36.

One of the lieutenants tells us McConnell probably hasn’t see this much construction in more than 50 years on the base, all at once.

“KC-46 is the next generation of the fueling platform,” said McConnell Air Force Base Operation Support Command Lt. Colonel Brian Backman.

It’s an aircraft that will be used for decades to come.

“The brand new airplane, the KC-46, is a new weapon system, it has a lot more combat capabilities on it. It has a multi-roll capability that the KC-135 is doing now, but a more robust capability to really be able to fly long way out into the future.)

McConnell was chosen as the home for the active-duty KC-46 tanker fleet, but the base needs to be upgraded to house the new planes. They’re finishing building 6 new hangers under a tight timeline.

“Three of the six hangers must be done before first 46 arrive in August of 2016,” said KC-46 Program Integration Office Civil Engineering officer First Lt. Daniel Calvario.

For McConnell, this is an investment of $267 million, but it has an even larger impact on the community.

“We have over 200, 300 workers here just for our hanger projects alone that are going to be using the local hotels, going to be renting property here, using local restaurants,” Calvario said.

A lot of work is being done by local companies. Many are sub contractors. That’s putting money back into Wichita’s economy.

“We ask as many general contractors to come down and meet with the local subs so they can start teaming up and they can start bidding on these projects,” said Kansas City District Core of Enginers Project Manager Ben Davis.

But the community and financial impact won’t end when the construction is complete. With this new fleet, McConnell military and civilian workforce will expand as well.

“Currently with the KC-46, we’re going to grow to approximately three groups.and provide three flying squadrons,” said Lt. Colonel Michael Schlotterback. “We have about 24 air crew per the flying squadron and we will grow to 18 air crews per the 3 flying squadrons.”

McConnell also told us they are using local products for this expansion project. All of the steel has been produced in Kansas coming from Pittsburg and Topeka.

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