Oneida County Airport selected for Air Force training

The Oneida County Airport has been selected as a training site for the Air Force’s Airborne Warning and Control System, Oneida County Executive Anthony Picente said Tuesday.

The system, known as AWACS, is based at Tinker Air Force Base in Oklahoma and monitors air traffic east of the Mississippi River.

Once the program is fully operational, groups of more than 150 Air Force personnel will be at the Griffiss Business and Technology Park from late spring to early winter every year.

“This is a great step forward for Oneida County as we continue to be a major part of the nation’s air defense system through this new training effort,” Picente said in a statement.

The AWACS personnel will contribute thousands of dollars to the area economy even in its initial two-month run this summer, according to figures
provided by Picente’s office:

* $56,000 in vehicle rentals

* $283,000 for hotel rooms

* $100,000 in fuel sales for the planes

That initial deployment will start Sunday, Picente’s office said.

Rome Mayor James Brown said he was elated at the news Griffiss had been selected.

He said it would give the local economy a boost, and he already knew of one local hotel where the Air Force was looking to book rooms.

“So now you have lodging, you have food, and other sales tax as well,” he said.

Griffiss was competing with operational Air Force bases in Georgia, North Carolina and Virginia for the program.

Those bases have facilities where the personnel could stay during the training, but the skies above Griffiss are free of the congestion seen elsewhere, which would make maneuvering and training easier, officials said.

Griffiss was selected after a successful training session in March, when an AWACS plane spent a week at Griffiss, Picente said.

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