101st Air Refueling Wing hopes to bring KC-46 fleet to Bangor

Published: Jan. 4, 2022 at 4:40 PM EST
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BANGOR, Maine (WABI) - The 101st Air Refueling Wing is vying to receive a new fleet of aircraft.

The Maine Air National Guard says the Boeing KC-46 Pegasus would be a game changer for both the base and the city of Bangor.

“From our strategic location here in Maine, the KC-46 represents a significant upgrade in our operational capabilities that would enable us to provide increased support to the defense of the nation for years to come,” said Col. Ian Gillis, 101st Air Refueling Wing commander.

The 101st Air Refueling Wing in Bangor is among at least 15 Air National Guard units competing to be one of two selected for a fleet of eight new KC-46 Pegasus tankers from Boeing.

“KC-46 is a very versatile platform that’s obviously many years improved over the Eisenhower-era tankers that we’re flying now. It provides ability for air-to-air refueling for itself, which means that it can carry more gas across the Atlantic, can support both the NATO and US fighters on the same mission, which our current tankers can’t do,” said Gillis.

Gillis says the platform would bring a component of up to 200 active duty men and women with it.

He recently presented the initiative to the Bangor City Council which gave the Maineiacs its full support.

“This is the type of investment within the community that will help Bangor grow in the future,” said Rick Fournier, Bangor City Council chairman.

Bangor International Airport is on board as well.

“Other bases may claim to have strong relations with their city or airport counterparts, but none stand in comparison to the partnership between 101st and the airport and the city,” said Tony Caruso, Bangor International Airport director.

While the selection criteria is still in development, Gillis says cost of living, housing, and access to medical facilities will be among the factors considered.

He says the preferred locations could be announced as soon as next fall.

“We’d like the new and most modern so we can do more and do better,” said Gillis.

If Bangor is selected, the Maineiacs would begin receiving the KC-46s in 2027.

If they’re not chosen, Gillis says the 101st will continue its mission and still be a premier air refueling wing into the future.

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