Detection program gets $7.5 million

Friday, August 25th 2000, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

TULSA, Okla. (AP) -- A Tulsa-based company will get $7.5 million to bolster a program that detects weapons of mass destruction, U.S.

Sen. Jim Inhofe says.

The funds will go to Airborne Technology, which has developed aircraft being tested at Camp Gruber in cooperation with the Oklahoma National Guard.

The aircraft, which can be manned or unmanned, have the technology to detect chemical terrorism and could be used in such places as Iraq and Bosnia, said Loren Abbott, chief executive of Airborne Technology.

Working with the National Guard, Airborne Technology has about 10 employees assigned to the program. Abbott said that number could rise to 100 after the new funding is approved.

The funding measure is in a joint House-Senate conference committee, Inhofe, R-Okla., said Thursday.

"In government, a lot of times there is an appropriation made that never reaches its intended target," Inhofe said. But, he said, "this is a done deal. This program is in there to stay."

Pointing to Iraq, Inhofe said, "This technology would give us the capability of determining just where chemical labs are and target them much closer" than on-the-ground inspection crews.

He said the $7.5 million appropriation "is just the beginning, and we are going to be expanding the program. . . . This is going to save American lives."