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JSTARS planes to be flown to Oklahoma ahead of Hurricane Irma

U.S. Air Force Airman 1st Class Thomas Love, with the 461st Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, removes chocks while launching an E-8C Joint STARS on a mission in support of Hurricane Harvey relief efforts, Robins Air Force Base, Ga., Sept. 1, 2017.
U.S. Air Force Airman 1st Class Thomas Love, with the 461st Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, removes chocks while launching an E-8C Joint STARS on a mission in support of Hurricane Harvey relief efforts, Robins Air Force Base, Ga., Sept. 1, 2017. U.S. Air National Guard photo by Airman 1st Class Amanda Bodony

The Joint Surveillance Target Attack Radar System, operating out of Robins Air Force Base, plans to move about a half dozen planes from hangars in Warner Robins to Oklahoma City ahead of Hurricane Irma.

“We’re moving four to six (aircraft) to Tinker Air Force Base in Oklahoma,” Operations Group Commander for the 116th Air Control Wing Ato Crumbly said Friday. “We’ll keep them there until early next week and then we’ll fly them back and resume normal operations.”

Hurricane Matthew in October 2016 was the last time JSTARS had to move planes elsewhere.

“What you’re really worried about is spinoff thunderstorms. We know we won’t get the brunt of the hurricane itself,” Crumbly said. “Like all air planes, we have limits for the amount of gusts they can take when they’re on the ground. ... It’s just to be very prudent.”

Each of the planes costs about $330 million a piece and JSTARS has about 16 of them.

“This will have minimal impact on our mission,” Crumbly said.

The planes likely will be moved sometime Saturday.

The Central/Midwest Georgia Red Cross center is welcoming Hurricane Irma evacuees from Florida and South Georgia. The shelter has been providing housing, food and more.

GPB’s Grant Blankenship contributed to this report.

Laura Corley: 478-744-4334, @Lauraecor

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