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Archive for Wednesday, August 13, 2003

House speaker tours tanker

August 13, 2003

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— House Speaker Dennis Hastert donned special vision goggles Tuesday and took controls of the simulator flying a modified 767 tanker.

Behind him, U.S. Rep. Todd Tiahrt watched Hastert refuel a plethora of simulated airborne aircraft in the arcade-like demonstrator.

Tiahrt leaned over to Bob Gower, Boeing's vice president for the 767 tanker program and jokingly asked him, "Where do we put in the quarter?"

Gower replied: "We take credit cards."

Boeing awaits congressional approval of a $16 billion leasing deal to deliver 100 refueling tankers to the U.S. Air Force.

"The strongest advocate for this program -- the most powerful advocate for this program in Washington -- has been Dennis Hastert," Tiahrt said.

Hastert, who was in Wichita on a fund-raising swing for Tiahrt, also went through the first 767 plane now being reconfigured for the Italian Air Force at Boeing's modification plant in Wichita.

"It is an important issue for our security and our nation," Hastert said. "It is an important issue in keeping our airlift capacity and fighter capacity and offensive military capacity online and modernized."

Hastert said the deal has probably hurdled most of the opposition, adding that he looked forward to seeing the first modified 767 airplane delivered in August 2006.

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