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Tulsa doing ‘too good’ to get F-35s, says Inhofe | Latest Tulsa Headlines

Tulsa’s Air National Guard base may be too efficient for its own good, at least when it comes to acquiring next-generation F-35 fighter jets, U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe said Tuesday.

“I have to tell you … we’ve done maybe too good of a job out here with the Guard,” Inhofe said after visiting the base in northwest Tulsa. “It’s not helping our situation, ultimately, with the F-35, (that) … right now we have the best F-16s of any Guard unit in the country.”

Inhofe also confirmed reports that the National Defense Authorization Act is unlikely to be finalized until after the Nov. 3 election. Reportedly, Republicans hope delaying the NDAA will prevent a fight over bases named for Confederate officers from becoming a campaign issue.

Switching to a non-military subject, Inhofe gave less than full-throated support to four memos signed by President Donald Trump last weekend. The memos, presented as COVID-19 relief, would defer collection of the payroll taxes that support Social Security and Medicare and offer a short-term payment to the unemployed provided states contribute 25%.

Some have suggested deferring the payroll tax is a step toward killing Social Security and Medicare. Others fear it will further undermine the program’s long-term viability, intentionally or not.

In signing the memos, Trump did not say he wants to end the two programs, but he did mention “terminating” the payroll tax that pays for them if he is re-elected. Others in his administration said Trump is not attacking Social Security and Medicare.

“It’s not an easy thing,” Inhofe said. “Let’s keep in mind, those are four things that are recommendations at this point. That’s not a final decision.”

The Tulsa Air National Guard Base has been trying for years to secure F-35s for its 138th Fighter Wing.

Introduced in 1979, the F-16 is faster, more maneuverable, and cheaper than the new F-35s, according to military experts.

The newer F-35s require less maintenance, though, and are more versatile and advanced technologically.

Inhofe said the Tulsa base’s ability to maintain its fleet of F-16s is figuring into decisions about a replacement schedule.

“We’re doing all of these things to upgrade the F-16,” Inhofe said. “We have best F-16s of any unit out there. And yet, that’s one thing that doesn’t work in our favor. One of the criteria (for F-35s) is to go where they’re needed most, where their F-16s are not updated.”

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