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Air Force Bases in Oklahoma Await New Fleet of KC-46 Tankers

OKLAHOMA CITY, Okla. -- A new fleet of tankers is expected to give the U.S. Air Force a more efficient option for refueling planes midflight. The Oklahoman reports that the KC-46 tanker plane, nicknamed the Pegasus, features a system that will allow it to refuel three smaller planes at once. The new tanker's cargo deck also includes space for three times as much cargo and twice as many passengers as the KC-135 Stratotanker, which it's designed to replace. The Air Force's 60-year-old KC-135 Stratotankers kept American B-52 bombers in the air throughout the Cold War. Production setbacks have raised questions about when the new fleet will be ready to fly. Wiring issues and problems with the plane's refueling system have caused delays, which have left officials at two Air Force bases in Oklahoma with little to do but wait. "We've done quite a bit of work, and we're sitting in a good position," said Maj. Charles Restall, an officer at Altus Air Force Base. "We've been working everything we can to prepare." The plane is expected to have a major Oklahoma presence. Altus Air Force Base will serve as a training site for crews, and Tinker Air Force Base will provide maintenance. Tinker is being considered as a possible base for the planes. Boeing is scheduled to deliver the first 18 planes to the Air Force by August 2017.

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