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​The KC-46 program's first test aircraft, a Boeing 767-2C (EMD-1), touches down at Edwards AFB, Calif., for the first time Oct. 15, 2015. Air Force photo by Ethan Wagner.

​Seymour Johnson AFB, N.C., is the Air Force’s preferred location to be the first Reserve KC-46 Pegasus tanker base, the service said Thursday. The announcement launches the start of an environmental impact analysis process, which, given a favorable outcome, will confirm the choice. The base could receive the aircraft as soon as 2019. Other “reasonable alternative” locations named were Tinker AFB, Okla., Westover ARB, Mass., and Grissom ARB, Ind. Seymour-Johnson was chosen “based on operational analysis, results of site surveys, cost, and military judgment factors,” USAF Deputy Assistant Secretary for Installations Jennifer Miller said in a release. The “primary drivers” for the choice were “lower costs and its highly successful existing Active Duty association, which will lead to the lowest Active Duty manpower required to stand up the KC-46 Reserve unit.” The Air Force had already named Altus AFB, Okla., as the KC-46 training base; McConnell AFB, Kansas, as the first Active Duty base, and Pease ANGB, N.H., as the first Guard base for the Pegasus tanker. Other factors evaluated included training requirements, potential impacts to existing missions, base housing, infrastructure, and manpower. The “reasonable alternatives” will continue to be evaluated and “compete for future continental US” basing locations. USAF plans to buy 179 KC-46s as the first installment of a three-phase effort to replace its KC-135 and KC-10 tankers.