Congress's final version of the defense budget brings a new high-tech mission to Robins Air Force Base but would start phasing out the base's JSTARS unit.
And that news has two of the state's top Republicans -- U.S. Sen. David Perdue and Congressman Austin Scott -- sniping at each other about what's best for Robins.
Both men released statements Monday on the final National Defense Authorization Act.
That document works out differences between the House and Senate versions of the defense budget.
According to both Scott and Perdue, the final budget includes money to begin bringing the Advanced Battlefield Management System to Robins.
According to the Air Force, that will combine different intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance information for commanders on the ground. ABMS will bring intel from current JSTARS operations and other sensors like radar, drone information, intel from fighter jets and other technologies that don't even exist yet.
Earlier this year, the 21st Century Partnership said ABMS would put Robins on the cutting edge of military technology for years to come.
But the system would eventually replace JSTARs, the Robins-based air surveillance system.
And that's where Perdue and Scott disagree.
Using a fleet of 16 E-8C aircraft, JSTARS provides real-time battlefield intelligence for the War on Terror.
The 21st Partnership estimates that JSTARS pumps $96 million a year into Central Georgia's economy through the 116th and 461st Air Control Wings.
But the Air Force has argued for years that the JSTARS fleet is aging and outmoded.
Scott and others say the solution is to build a new fleet of JSTARS craft that would continue the current mission for decades. He says the Air Force should keep the current system at full strength until the replacement, ABMS, is ready for action.
Perdue says he's siding with the Trump administration and the Defense Department, which wants to gradually phase out JSTARS and phase in ABMS as its replacement.
He supported their move to cut $623 million for a new JSTARS fleet out of the current budget.
And that seemed to upset Scott.
He said that by withdrawing support for a new JSTARs fleet, Perdue is "forcing a higher risk to our men and women in uniform," forcing them to fly 48-year-old planes.
Scott added, "I hope Senator Perdue is willing to come back to the table and fight for the 116th and 461st Air Control Wings, and I stand willing and ready to work with him to correct this mistake."
Perdue's statement doesn't mention Scott by name, but says, "Anyone who doesn't see that this plan is a huge win for Robins is more concerned with their next election than our long-term national security and Robins' long-term viability."
Perdue says, "With the solution I support, we save JSTARS jobs, maintain the JSTARS fleet into the next decade, accelerate the implementation of ABMS, and gain a new mission for Robins."
Earlier this year, the Air Force said JSTARS' day-to-day operations are funded through at least the mid 2020s. ABMS is expected to begin rolling out sometime in the next decade.