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Severe weather brings AWACS to D-M

An E-3 Airborne Warning and Control System aircraft from Tinker Air Force Base, Okla., prepares to land at Davis-Monthan AFB, Ariz., May 16, 2015. Eight AWACS arrived here due to tornado alerts in Oklahoma.  AWACS provide all-weather surveillance, command, control and communications needed by commanders of U.S. and NATO air defense forces. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Betty R. Chevalier)

An E-3 Airborne Warning and Control System aircraft from Tinker Air Force Base, Okla., prepares to land at Davis-Monthan AFB, Ariz., May 16, 2015. Eight AWACS arrived here due to tornado alerts in Oklahoma. AWACS provide all-weather surveillance, command, control and communications needed by commanders of U.S. and NATO air defense forces. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Betty R. Chevalier)

An E-3 Airborne Warning and Control System aircraft from Tinker Air Force Base, Okla., lands on the flightline at Davis-Monthan AFB, Ariz., May 16, 2015. Eight AWACS arrived here due to tornado alerts in Oklahoma. The AWACS are assigned to the 963rd Airborne Air Control Squadron from the 552nd Air Control Wing. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Betty R. Chevalier)

An E-3 Airborne Warning and Control System aircraft from Tinker Air Force Base, Okla., lands on the flightline at Davis-Monthan AFB, Ariz., May 16, 2015. Eight AWACS arrived here due to tornado alerts in Oklahoma. The AWACS are assigned to the 963rd Airborne Air Control Squadron from the 552nd Air Control Wing. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Betty R. Chevalier)

An E-3 Airborne Warning and Control System aircraft from Tinker Air Force Base, Okla., lands on the flightline at Davis-Monthan AFB, Ariz., May 16, 2015. Eight AWACS arrived here due to tornado alerts in Oklahoma. The AWACS maximum takeoff weight is 347,000 lbs and is 41 feet, 4 inches tall and 145 feet, 6 inches in length. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Betty R. Chevalier)

An E-3 Airborne Warning and Control System aircraft from Tinker Air Force Base, Okla., lands on the flightline at Davis-Monthan AFB, Ariz., May 16, 2015. Eight AWACS arrived here due to tornado alerts in Oklahoma. The AWACS maximum takeoff weight is 347,000 lbs and is 41 feet, 4 inches tall and 145 feet, 6 inches in length. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Betty R. Chevalier)

An E-3 Airborne Warning and Control System aircraft from Tinker Air Force Base, Okla., lands on the flightline at Davis-Monthan AFB, Ariz., May 16, 2015. Eight AWACS arrived here due to tornado alerts in Oklahoma. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Chris Massey/Released)

An E-3 Airborne Warning and Control System aircraft from Tinker Air Force Base, Okla., lands on the flightline at Davis-Monthan AFB, Ariz., May 16, 2015. Eight AWACS arrived here due to tornado alerts in Oklahoma. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Chris Massey/Released)

An E-3 Airborne Warning and Control System aircraft from Tinker Air Force Base, Okla., prepares to land at Davis-Monthan AFB, Ariz., May 16, 2015. Eight AWACS arrived here due to tornado alerts in Oklahoma.  AWACS provide all-weather surveillance, command, control and communications needed by commanders of U.S. and NATO air defense forces. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Betty R. Chevalier)

An E-3 Airborne Warning and Control System aircraft from Tinker Air Force Base, Okla., prepares to land at Davis-Monthan AFB, Ariz., May 16, 2015. Eight AWACS arrived here due to tornado alerts in Oklahoma. AWACS provide all-weather surveillance, command, control and communications needed by commanders of U.S. and NATO air defense forces. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Betty R. Chevalier)

An E-3 Airborne Warning and Control System aircraft from Tinker Air Force Base, Okla., lands on the flightline at Davis-Monthan AFB, Ariz., May 16, 2015. Eight AWACS arrived here due to tornado alerts in Oklahoma. The AWACS are assigned to the 963rd Airborne Air Control Squadron from the 552nd Air Control Wing. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Betty R. Chevalier)

An E-3 Airborne Warning and Control System aircraft from Tinker Air Force Base, Okla., lands on the flightline at Davis-Monthan AFB, Ariz., May 16, 2015. Eight AWACS arrived here due to tornado alerts in Oklahoma. The AWACS are assigned to the 963rd Airborne Air Control Squadron from the 552nd Air Control Wing. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Betty R. Chevalier)

An E-3 Airborne Warning and Control System aircraft from Tinker Air Force Base, Okla., prepares to land at Davis-Monthan AFB, Ariz., May 16, 2015. Eight AWACS arrived here due to tornado alerts in Oklahoma.  (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Chris Massey/Released)

An E-3 Airborne Warning and Control System aircraft from Tinker Air Force Base, Okla., prepares to land at Davis-Monthan AFB, Ariz., May 16, 2015. Eight AWACS arrived here due to tornado alerts in Oklahoma. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Chris Massey/Released)

An E-3 Airborne Warning and Control System aircraft from Tinker Air Force Base, Okla., taxis at Davis-Monthan AFB, Ariz., May 16, 2015. Eight AWACS arrived here her due to tornado alerts in Oklahoma. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Chris Massey/Released)

An E-3 Airborne Warning and Control System aircraft from Tinker Air Force Base, Okla., taxis at Davis-Monthan AFB, Ariz., May 16, 2015. Eight AWACS arrived here her due to tornado alerts in Oklahoma. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Chris Massey/Released)

U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Joshua Colter, 552nd Aircraft Maintenance Squadron electrical and environmental systems specialist, marshals an E-3 Airborne Warning and Control System aircraft at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Ariz., May 16, 2015. Eight AWACS arrived here due to tornado alerts in Oklahoma. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Chris Massey/Released)

U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Joshua Colter, 552nd Aircraft Maintenance Squadron electrical and environmental systems specialist, marshals an E-3 Airborne Warning and Control System aircraft at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Ariz., May 16, 2015. Eight AWACS arrived here due to tornado alerts in Oklahoma. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Chris Massey/Released)

Eight E-3 Airborne Warning and Control System aircraft from Tinker Air Force Base, Okla., sit on a ramp at Davis-Monthan AFB, Ariz., May 16, 2015.  The aircraft arrived here due to tornado alerts in Oklahoma.  (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Chris Massey/Released)
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Eight E-3 Airborne Warning and Control System aircraft from Tinker Air Force Base, Okla., sit on a ramp at Davis-Monthan AFB, Ariz., May 16, 2015. The aircraft arrived here due to tornado alerts in Oklahoma. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Chris Massey/Released)

An E-3 Airborne Warning and Control System aircraft from Tinker Air Force Base, Okla., taxis at Davis-Monthan AFB, Ariz., May 16, 2015. Eight AWACS arrived here her due to tornado alerts in Oklahoma. The AWACS maximum takeoff weight is 347,000 lbs and is 41 feet, 4 inches tall and 145 feet, 6 inches in length. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Betty R. Chevalier)
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An E-3 Airborne Warning and Control System aircraft from Tinker Air Force Base, Okla., taxis at Davis-Monthan AFB, Ariz., May 16, 2015. Eight AWACS arrived here her due to tornado alerts in Oklahoma. The AWACS maximum takeoff weight is 347,000 lbs and is 41 feet, 4 inches tall and 145 feet, 6 inches in length. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Betty R. Chevalier)

DAVIS-MONTHAN AIR FORCE BASE, Ariz. -- Several dozen Airmen boarded eight E-3 Airborne Warning and Control System aircraft and flew here May 16, to avoid severe weather impacting their home base, Tinker AFB, Oklahoma.

Oklahoma endured severe thunderstorms, which brought heavy rains, wind, hail and tornados near Tinker AFB.  An executive decision was made to evacuate the aircraft to protect them.

"The forecast was showing hail and heavy convective activity for the late afternoon, evening time frame, so it was thought in the interest of the fleet to evacuate them and get them somewhere where the weather was good so they wouldn't be damaged," said 1st Lt Gabriel DeJong, 963d Airborne Air Control Squadron pilot.

The AWACS provides all-weather surveillance, command, control and communications needed by commanders of U.S. and NATO air defense forces. They contain a rotating radar dome that is vital to the aircraft, held 11 feet above the fuselage.

With heavy rains and hail, the fleet of eight, valued at more than $2 billion, could have been damaged if not for the support of another base.

The AWACS returned to Tinker AFB later that evening once the severe weather decreased.