Latest "E-3 Sentry" stories
Sen. Tammy Duckworth, D-Ill., worried the Air Force could find itself without enough aircraft to conduct battlefield management or rescue downed personnel.
Boeing's Wedgetail, now flown by the Royal Australian Air Force, has long been seen as the top contender for the job.
AWACS jets have been in use at Tinker since the 1970s, but are getting harder to maintain and more vulnerable in combat.
Airmen clash with 552nd Operations Group commander Col. Gary Donovan.