D-M to shelter Oklahoma aircraft

Davis Monthan Air Force Base is providing shelter to aircraft from Tinker AFB, Oklahoma until inclement weather passes through the Midwest and they will be visible in the skies around the base. Twelve E-3 Sentry, airborne warning and control systems aircraft arrived in Tucson on Wednesday in response to forecasts predicting the arrival of severe weather.

Air Force officials say that the AWACS are familiar with the “bed-down process” in Tucson, having recently departed D-M days after severe weather caused catastrophic damage to, Tinker’s nearby neighbor, the city of Moore, Oklahoma May 20.

D-M’s proximity to Tinker, its 24/7 operations and its ability to support the heavy aircraft on their runaway made the base the ideal base to lay low until the inclement weather had passed, said Airman 1st Class Barbie Kramer, 355th Operations Support Squadron airfield operations coordinator.

“There is more severe weather expected in Oklahoma,” said 1st Lt. Bryan Armbrust, 355th Operations Support Squadron. “Right now everyone is trying to be proactive and get the aircraft moved and secured before the weather hits.”

Visitors to D-M will notice the unique profile of the AWACS. It is a modified Boeing 707/320 commercial airframe with a rotating radar dome.  The dome makes the aircraft easy to distinguish. It is 30 feet in diameter, six feet thick, and is held 11 feet above the fuselage by two struts.

Armbrust said Tusconans will be able to see the aircraft in the skies above Tucson May 30 as the aircraft are slated to fly locally.

The aircraft are expected to be here through the end of the week.