Ellington Field Supporters Switch to "Plan B"

Now that the federal Base Realignment and Closure Commission has voted to retire the squadron of F-16 fighters based at Ellington Field, those who fought to keep the fighters there have switched to "Plan B."

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Ellington Field Task Force Chairman John Cook says it's a sad reality but Ellington is going to lose the fighters now based there. Cook says the BRAC commission has made its decision and Houston lost the battle. He says he's flabbergasted that BRAC would vote to keep an air guard wing flying in Duluth Minnesota, but not one in Houston, but they're moving on and putting this loss behind them. He says BRAC only voted to retire the F-16 fighters at Ellington -- not the 147th Wing of the Texas Air National Guard that flies them -- and the Ellington Task Force is already lobbying to get new planes and new work for the 147th.

It's already been announced that the 147th will get a squadron of armed and unmanned Predator drones and nearly 500 support personnel to patrol and protect the upper gulf coast. The drones can be in place and flying by June of next year. Cook says funding for new manned planes is a real possibility, and some Congressional heavy-weights are promising their support.

Congress will vote on the full package of base closure and realignment recommendations sometime next month, and by law the vote will have to be for all or none -- they don't have line item veto power on them, and President Bush has said he will sign the bill when he gets it.