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Irene pushes Air Force to move aircraft away from eastern Florida

By Larry Shaughnessy, CNN Pentagon Producer
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Air Force will move 23 planes to Texas, north Florida
  • Navy, Marine Corps not moving equipment at this time
  • Pentagon says it's watching Irene

Washington (CNN) -- The Air Force is moving 23 war planes from Homestead Air Reserve Base in southeastern Florida as Hurricane Irene grows stronger and moves closer to the state, according to a statement released Tuesday afternoon.

Twenty-one F-16 Fighting Falcons will be moved to Carswell Naval Air Station in Fort Worth, Texas.

Two F-15 Strike Eagles will fly to Jacksonville International Airport, which shares land and facilities with a Florida Air National Guard base.

Patrick Air Force base in Cocoa Beach, Florida, is at Hurricane Condition 4, declared when the forecast calls for the arrival of a tropical storm with 58 mph sustained winds or greater within 72 hours. Evacuation plans are "pending," according to the release.

Patrick AFB's official website has a recent posting that reads, in part, "base personnel/residents should begin preparing for the possible arrival of the storm, which may necessitate evacuation of the barrier island, including Patrick's base housing. No order has been given for the evacuation of base residents at this time. Base residents should not begin evacuation until and unless ordered to do so by the 45th Space Wing officials."

So far, neither the Navy or Marine Corps is moving any ships or aircraft out of the way of the potential storm track.

But, Pentagon spokesman Col. David Lapan said, "We're obviously watching that very closely, right now, and preparing as we always do."