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KC-46 Tanker: MacDill Air Force Base and Tampa passed over for new jets and economic boost

10:04 AM, Jan 10, 2013   |    comments
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Tampa, Florida -- Bad news for MacDill Air Force Base. They're missing out on opportunity that could have been a boost to the Bay Area's economy.

We're losing out on jobs and growth -- as well as being home to the future, instead of the past.

Planes that fly around the world refueling other jets are the backbone of MacDill Air Force Base.

And the Air Force promises they will keep flying from the South Tampa base for decades to come.

But the jets we'll keep seeing overhead are an ancient design from the Eisenhower era.

The future lies with a new jet, the KC-46.

MacDill was one of 54 bases in contention to host the first wave of these new planes.

There was a bipartisan -- yes, bipartisan -- push to show the Air Force that MacDill is the best base for the job.

The Air Force said "no" to Tampa on Wednesday and will send all of those first-wave new jets to bases west of the Mississippi.

Not getting this jet means Tampa Bay won't get the economic boost of new air crews living and spending here. Plus, local builders won't get deals to add facilities to handle the new jets.

Eventually, all of MacDill's aging tankers -- called KC-135 Stratotankers -- will need to be replaced.

But the Air Force's timeframe for that looks to be at least 15 years down the road, and maybe longer.

Grayson Kamm, 10 News

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