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Tinker to be one of maintenance destinations of aircraft

(MIDWEST CITY) - Tinker Air Force Base will be one of the facilities where Boeing 767s are sent for maintenance and repair after the U.S. Air Force uses them to replace its fleet of KC-135 Stratotanker planes.

The Air Force plans to replace the planes over the next three to five years, but none of the big aircraft will fit in any of the hangars presently at the base, Maj. Gen. Charles L. Johnson II, commander of the Air Logistics Center, said Tuesday.

``So in order for us to meet our mission, a 767-size hangar will have to be built along with an airplane taxiway across Douglas Boulevard,'' Johnson said.

The Air Force is forming partnerships with some private companies, such as airplane engine maker Pratt & Whitney and aircraft manufacturer Boeing to get the hangar built, Johnson said. Those companies already have offices at a local industrial park.

Pratt & Whitney and Boeing will be part of the public/private partnership needed to build and operate a new Aircraft Maintenance and Repair Operations Technology Facility at Tinker, Johnson said during a Midwest City Chamber of Commerce luncheon at Rose State College.

Midwest City officials have said the new maintenance center will need about 3,000 new employees, and that construction costs will likely be in the $250 million to $300 million range.

Johnson also spoke of Tinker's overall importance to the Air Force.

The base was recognized recently as the best base in the Air Force, an honor that takes security, health, schools and child care into consideration, he said.

``The best base award is an accomplishment, considering Tinker is competing with such exotic locales as Eglin Air Force Base in Florida and Hickam Air Force Base in Hawaii,'' he said.

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