Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst will receive a fleet of new Boeing KC-46A Pegasus air-refueling tanker planes, the Air Force's next generation of tankers, according to an announcement Thursday by the Air Force and members of the New Jersey congressional delegation.
Two dozen tankers are expected to be delivered to the Joint Base after 2020 to replace 30 McDonnell Douglas KC10 Extender tankers that are being retired.
U.S. Sens. Bob Menendez and Cory Booker, both Democrats, and U.S. Reps. Tom MacArthur (R., Third District) and Donald Norcross (D., First District) said in a joint news release that the base is the "nation's only tri-service joint installation - home to Air Force, Army and Navy operations," and is the state's second-largest employer.
Booker applauded the decision to designate it as a KC-46 Main Operating Base, pointing to the base's "strong track record in tanker and airlift operations, its prime location, and the thousands of military flight hours" that have been performed there.
MacArthur said more than 42,000 New Jersey residents work at the base and thousands more are employed in the surrounding area. They "can breathe easy knowing the Joint Base will remain our nation's premier air mobility installation by becoming the new home of the KC-46 air-to-air refueling tanker," he said.
The congressional delegation had pressed the Air Force to include the base among those hosting the new generation of tankers.
Last year, the Air Force announced it would be moving ahead with plans to replace its aging fleet of air refueling tankers, including the KC-10 tankers at the Joint Base. The Joint Base was among five bases across the country being considered for the new tankers in this round. Travis Air Force Base in California also will receive 24 new tankers.
The Joint Base is home to the 305th Air Mobility Wing, which supports the delivery of cargo and personnel overseas, according to the delegation. The base has a $6.9 billion economic impact on New Jersey each year, the delegation said in its statement.