MIDWEST CITY, Okla. (KFOR) - A new maintenance facility is expected to bring 1,300 jobs and a major boost to Tinker Air Force Base.
Officials celebrated the ribbon-cutting on Friday, celebrating one of the base's largest construction projects in decades.
"It's like Christmas morning," said Brig. Gen. Chris Hill.
The new 156-acre maintenance campus leaves an undeniable buzz in the air at Tinker Air Force Base.
"Giving a level of flexibility that we've never had," Hill said.
The base will now be able to maintain the new KC-46A Pegasus refueling and military transport aircraft. Officials say the aircraft is replacing the aging KC-135 fleet that was put in service in the late 1950's by 2028.
The Pegasus' maximum cargo capacity is more than 210,000 pounds.
"Really the dawn of a new era for air refueling capability for our Air Force," Hill said.
One big point of emphasis is the impact it will have not just here at Tinker but beyond.
"It's going to be used as a trainer down in Altus," said Sen. Jim Inhofe. "That ensures the prosperity of both Altus Air Force Base and Tinker Air Force Base for the next 60 years."
That prosperity is bringing 1,300 new jobs to Tinker.
"Families need to understand that when they come to work at Tinker, they're not going to be enlisting in the United States Air Force to work on Tinker," said Col. Paul Filcek. "It's a workforce that contributes to our national defense."
Tinker officials say maintaining the Pegasus at their base is an honor they're not taking lightly.
"If you know somebody that works here at Tinker, tell them congratulations because they've earned the right to maintain the newest aircraft in the Air Force and that's not easy," said Hill.
This is the first portion of a large project expected to run through FY 2029.