Mississippi is preparing its military forces through aviation investment and multi-domain training for long-range missions in contested environments.
Earlier this year, Governor Tate Reeves authorized $20 million for a new fire rescue station and to convert the existing facility into a small air terminal and deployment processing center at Meridian’s Key Field, home of the 186th Air Refueling Wing (ARW).
The fire rescue station supports all Air and Army National Guard aviation assets as well as the Meridian Regional Airport’s civilian and commercial traffic. With an aircraft traffic count of over 92,000 last year, Key Field has the most air traffic of any airport in Mississippi.
“Mississippi’s commitment to our service members is unwavering,” Governor Tate Reeves said. “The investment at Key Field will continue to fuel America’s air power with the KC-135 and prepare us for the future fight. Key Field is a prime location to operate the next generation of aerial refueling aircraft with its available ramp space and proximity to numerous aerial refueling tracks. We are proud to support this important mission.”
The fire station project will also allow the conversion of the second floor into aircrew quarters to meet Alert Line mission requirements. These facilities, along with the over 52,000-square-foot main aircraft hangar, are essential to supporting future air refueling platforms.
The 186th ARW of the Air National Guard provides over 1,100 personnel and eight KC-135R aircraft to Air Mobility Command operations.
Over the past 30 years, the 186th has supported Operation ENDURING FREEDOM and Operation IRAQI FREEDOM, among other missions. More recently, the 186th played a key role in downing a Chinese spy balloon over the Atlantic.
As the country defends against future threats, the next generation of tankers – the KC-46 platform – will fly farther to project power, employ assets, and sustain missions. The KC-46 has multi-mission capabilities that allow it to reach remote locations where space flexibility and joint operations are necessary to meet objectives against emerging threats.
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