Senate panel OKs funding for AWACS planes at Tinker Air Force Base in Oklahoma

The Senate Senate Appropriations Committee’s approval of AWACS funding virtually assures that the current complement of command-and-control aircraft at Oklahoma’s Tinker Air Force Base will survive another year.
by Chris Casteel Modified: July 17, 2014 at 8:11 pm •  Published: July 17, 2014
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photo - 
An E-3 Airborne Warning and Control System lands at Tinker Air Force Base in 2007. A U.S. Air Force proposal to reduce the number of AWACS planes at Tinker Air Force Base means a Reserve unit that flies and helps maintain the aircraft would be inactivated, Air Force officials said Tuesday. Photo by Jim Beckel, The Oklahoman Archives
An E-3 Airborne Warning and Control System lands at Tinker Air Force Base in 2007. A U.S. Air Force proposal to reduce the number of AWACS planes at Tinker Air Force Base means a Reserve unit that flies and helps maintain the aircraft would be inactivated, Air Force officials said Tuesday. Photo by Jim Beckel, The Oklahoman Archives

A Senate committee on Thursday approved funding for all of the AWACS planes currently at Tinker Air Force Base, virtually assuring that the current complement of command-and-control aircraft will survive another year.

Now, both the House and Senate spending bills for the Department of Defense protect all 27 planes stationed at Tinker and used by active duty and reserve units. The Defense Department had proposed saving money by retiring seven of the planes and eliminating the reserve unit’s role.

The full House has already approved the funding. The bill approved by the Senate Appropriations Committee on Thursday includes nearly $60 million for operations and personnel for the AWACS fleet. The $549 billion bill would also protect the A-10 fleet of planes that the administration wants to retire and grant a 1 percent pay raise to all Defense Department employees.

Since both the House and Senate committees that oversee defense spending agree on the AWACS, the issue is effectively decided for the fiscal year that begins in October.

Inhofe, Cole defend planes

Sen. Jim Inhofe, of Tulsa, the top Republican on the Senate Armed Service Committee, has protected Tinker’s AWACS in the separate defense bill that sets Pentagon policy.


by Chris Casteel
Washington Bureau
Chris Casteel began working for The Oklahoman's Norman bureau in 1982 while a student at the University of Oklahoma. After covering the police beat, federal courts and the state Legislature in Oklahoma City, he moved to Washington in 1990, where...
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