Some AWACS crews returned home

Friday, November 30th 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) _ Some of the AWACS crews deployed in support of U.S. military operations in Afghanistan returned Friday to Tinker Air Force Base.

The overseas deployment by the 552nd Air Control Wing will continue and those returning will be replaced with new crews, Air Force Lt. Herb McConnell said.

``It's a cycle where we take out a percentage and replace them,'' he said.

Tinker Air Force Base is home to the nation's largest contingent of AWACS planes, virtual air traffic control centers with wings. AWACS _ Airborne Warning and Control System _ airplanes monitor airborne threats and help control air battles.

The 552nd Air Control Wing was deployed to the Middle East in late September.

Five NATO AWACS airplanes and their crews were sent to Tinker Air Force Base to help replace forces assigned to the Middle East.

The NATO planes have been flying air patrols over the East Coast to bolster homeland security.