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Cole secures funding to save AWACS

ccasteel Published: May 30, 2014

Rep. Tom Cole has taken another step to protect Air Force command-and-control planes called AWACS at Tinker Air Force Base from proposed cuts by the Obama administration.

Cole, R-Moore, whose district includes Tinker, said Friday that a defense spending bill cleared a subcommittee with enough money to spare all seven planes proposed for retirement. There are 27 AWACS planes at Tinker.

Along with retiring planes, the Air Force had also proposed that a reserve unit at Tinker no longer fly AWACS and that the remaining ones be flown only by an active duty unit.

The spending bill goes even further than the defense authorization bill approved by the House last week. That measure included an amendment by Rep. Jim Bridenstine, R-Tulsa, to protect three of the planes.

Sen. Jim Inhofe, R-Tulsa, announced that the defense authorization bill would protect all seven.

Spending bills, however, are the key.

According to Cole’s office, the defense spending bill in the House provides $34.6 million for operations and maintenance, $24.9 million for personnel and $31 million for parts and modifications.

Cole is a senior member of the House Appropriations Committee and influential on the subcommittee for defense spending.

“I am pleased that the legislation brought before the Defense Appropriations Subcommittee not only prevents the proposed deactivation of seven AWACS assets stationed at Tinker Air Force Base but also provides full funding to keep them,” said Cole.

“America’s strength is its Command and Control. If we intend to be able to win wars in the future, America needs AWACS.

“Ever since the Air Force announced its proposed cuts to the AWACS platform, members of our Oklahoma delegation have worked together to prevent these reductions from becoming reality.

“While there is still much work ahead, including similar consideration and action by the Senate Appropriations Committee, we are on the right track in preserving these critical assets that keep both our nation and world safe.”