TINKER AIR FORCE BASE, Okla. — Tinker Air Force Base has been selected as the maintenance hub for the B-21 Raider — a new Air Force bomber expected to be delivered in the mid-2020s.
Secretary of the Air Force Heather Wilson announced the decision Nov. 16 in a media opportunity at the base. She said Tinker AFB was selected because of its experience and expertise in large aircraft maintenance and the quality of its workforce.
“We made that decision because Tinker Air Force Base has the people and the experience and has shown its ability to be able to provide sustainment to some of our most important aircraft. I saw that here today,” Wilson said.
She said she does not know how many jobs sustainment of the fleet will create at Tinker AFB, but projected it would be comparable to the maintenance of the KC-46 aircraft the base is taking on — about 1,300.
The announcement followed Wilson’s tour of Tinker AFB, including the Maintenance Repair and Overhaul Technical Center, where she was briefed about modifications to the B-1 and challenges faced with the aging aircraft.
When the tour reached Bldg. 9001, she was briefed about the Air Force Sustainment Center Software Enterprise, including how the software workload is coordinated between the three geographically separated air logistics complexes.
While in Bldg. 9001, Wilson was shown the Reverse Engineering and Critical Tooling lab, where the techniques and product of reverse engineering and additive manufacturing were demonstrated.
Wilson also visited the 552nd Air Control Wing, where Airmen shared Thanksgiving food with their families. She served food, ate lunch and spoke with 552nd ACW Airmen and their families one-on-one.
“I wanted to thank all of you for what you and your families do for this country. I hope that over the holidays, you’ll take some time just to step back and say thank you,” Wilson said to the wing.
During the tour, Wilson was also briefed about the KC-135 programed depot maintenance line and recent measures taken to cut the down time of the aircraft.
This shortened time is important for supporting the warfighter and keeping the fleet ready, she said.
“That’s why it matters. It’s support for the warfighter and for the readiness of the force. They’re saving time, they’re saving money and they’re leading the way. It’s been an absolutely wonderful day here at Tinker Air Force Base,” Wilson said.