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Congressman Guest, Meridian leaders...

Congressman Guest, Meridian leaders advocate for Key Field to house KC-46

By: Frank Corder - September 26, 2023

(Photo provided by Congressman Michael Guest's office)

Officials say the Meridian base is ready to receive the new aircraft replacing the KC-135, noting the size of the hangars and the substantial cost savings to the U.S. Air Force.

Mississippi’s Third District Congressman Michael Guest hosted a roundtable at the Mississippi National Guard’s 186th Air Refueling Wing at Key Field Air National Guard Base in Meridian, on Monday.

The roundtable featured an update and discussion on efforts to bring the KC-46 and a new refueling mission to the 186th Air Refueling Wing in Meridian. Federal officials are considering where the new KC-46s will be housed.

Local leaders from various facets of the broader Meridian and Lauderdale County community attended the event. 

“Meridian pioneered air refueling. This is the birthplace of the air refueling, done right here at Key Field,” Congressman Guest said. “It is important that we keep our current mission here.”

Guest said while the airmen in Meridian have taken care of the platforms, some now approaching 60 years old, it’s time for them to be replaced with the next generation.

Officials say the Meridian base is ready to receive the new aircraft replacing the KC-135 Stratotanker, noting that it is also one of the few hangars in the entire Air National Guard that can hold two KC-135s or house the KC-46 with no significant modifications, which would be a substantial cost savings to the U.S. Air Force.

“We know that the Air Force is looking at rolling out 16 of these new platforms within the next several years,” Guest said. “Those platforms will be rolled out to two bases that currently house the KC-135s, and our intent today was to show community support for Meridian to make sure we are positioning Key Field so that those new tankers will ultimately call Meridian home.”

A Boeing KC-46A Pegasus takes off at Yokota Air Base, Japan, Oct. 25, 2018, during a system evaluation. This is the first time the KC-46A visited Japan. The flight is to support an initial evaluation by the USAF of the KC-46A’s integrated mission system suite as well as its ability to conduct worldwide navigation, communication and operation. (U.S. Air Force photo by Yasuo Osakabe)

Congressman Guest told local community and military leaders that he along with the entire Mississippi federal delegation supports Meridian being the home to the KC-46s. Guest said the officials are advocating for Key Field in D.C., as are state leaders such as Governor Tate Reeves and state lawmakers from the Lauderdale County area who are providing state support.

Guest said it was important to host the event at Key Field this week to show officials at the Department of Defense and the Air Force the tremendous support Meridian’s base has not only in the local area but across the state.

It is expected that the criteria used to evaluate sites will be released soon. All 16 Air National Guard bases that currently fly the KC-135 will likely be part of the competition, with two locations ultimately selected.

About the Author(s)
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Frank Corder

Frank Corder is a native of Pascagoula. For nearly two decades, he has reported and offered analysis on government, public policy, business and matters of faith. Frank’s interviews, articles, and columns have been shared throughout Mississippi as well as in national publications such as the Daily Caller. He is a frequent guest on radio and television, providing insight and commentary on the inner workings of the Magnolia State. Frank has served his community in both elected and appointed public office, hosted his own local radio and television programs, and managed private businesses all while being an engaged husband and father. Email Frank: