The Pentagon plans to try again next year for funding what the Senate Budget Committee chairman calls a "gold-plated air base" in Italy.

Committee Chairman Jim Sasser, D-Tenn., who is also chairman of the appropriations subcommittee on military construction, was among those who strongly opposed the base and succeeded in blocking U.S. funds for it - at least for this fiscal year."This was an Air Force effort to build an extraordinarily expensive gold-plated base in a nice place in Italy," he said. "This was money we did not need to be spending when we had a budget deficit at home."

A Pentagon spokesman, Lt. Cmdr. Ken Satterfield, said he did not want to comment on whether the Crotone, Italy, base fit Sasser's "gold-plated" description.

"Crotone is needed to accommodate the F-16s (fighter jets that Spain has insisted be removed from its soil)," Satterfield said, "and for protecting the NATO southern flank."

The Pentagon is required by a new agreement with Spain to remove the 72 F-16s there by May 1992.