WARNER ROBINS -- The $29 billion sale of 84 F-15s to Saudi Arabia should help take some of the sting out of plans to eliminate 600 jobs at Robins Air Force Base.
The Air Force announced the deal last week, including the fact that Robins personnel will be involved in management of the planes. That will mean 85 additional jobs at Robins, base spokeswoman Chrissy Miner said Wednesday.
The base is offering early retirement and voluntary separation incentives to trim 600 people from the payroll, and some of those could be shifted over to fill some of the Saudi jobs, Miner said. Exactly when the new positions would be created, however, is uncertain as it will depend on when the funding becomes available, Miner said.
The Saudi sale was a record deal and viewed by some as a move to achieve a balance of power in the region where Iran has been seen as an increasing threat. It is part of a $60 billion package of military sales to Saudi Arabia approved by Congress.
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The sale is being led by Lt. Gen. Tom Owen, former commander of the Warner Robins Air Logistics Center.
The contract calls for the sale of 84 F-15SA fighter jets built by Boeing and also includes the upgrade of Saudi’s current fleet of 70 F-15S planes to the SA configuration. The planes would have the latest in technology.
In addition to Robins involvement, program management personnel at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, and Langley Air Force Base, Va., will be involved, according to an Air Force release. The Air Force stated that about 300 Saudis will be coming to the U.S. this year for training at Sheppard Air Force Base, Texas; Keesler Air Force Base, Miss.; and Langley.
Robins announced in November that as a part of Air Force-wide cost-cutting it is seeking to eliminate 600 jobs at Robins through voluntary buyouts.
In an initial round of offers immediately after the announcement, 234 people accepted and had left their jobs by the end of the year.
On Monday, a second round of offers will be made, and people who apply and are accepted would leave by April 20.
According to the White House, the F-15 sale will support 50,000 U.S. jobs. F-15s are built in St. Louis.
To contact writer Wayne Crenshaw, call 256-9725.