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Offutt planes set to come to Lincoln Airport in December

January 24, 2019
RC-135 planes, like this one landing at Offutt Air Force Base in Bellevue in 2015, could be based in Lincoln as early as December while Offutt undergoes runway work.

If all goes as planned, military aircraft from Offutt Air Force Base will start flying out of Lincoln in December.

Lt. Col. Vance Goodfellow, deputy commander of the 55th Wing’s Mission Support Group, told the Lincoln Airport Authority on Thursday that Offutt recently received approval from the Secretary of the Air Force to go ahead with a full runway replacement.

The project, which has an estimated cost of as much as $100 million, has been a priority of Nebraska’s congressional delegation.

Sen. Deb Fischer, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, added language to the fiscal 2019 national defense authorization act that was intended to ensure the project got done.

Goodfellow said Thursday that “dominoes have started to fall” in the process to get the project going.

The 55th Wing conducts intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance and electronic attack missions from Offutt, which is in Bellevue. Its fleet includes the OC-135B Open Skies Treaty observation aircraft, WC-135 Constant Phoenix atmospheric collection aircraft and RC-135V/W Rivet Joint electronic intelligence collection aircraft.

It would be based out of Lincoln during the runway project, which is estimated to last about a year.

To accommodate the 55th Wing, the Lincoln Airport needs some work, including updates to a former maintenance hangar so it can accommodate larger military aircraft and repairs to an airport apron that would be used by the military jets.

The Airport Authority on Thursday did approve an initial base agreement that essentially gives the Air Force access to the airport, Executive Director David Haring said.

Still to be worked out are specific details of work and improvements, which would be paid for by the Air Force.

Haring said those details are likely to be finalized in the next month or two.

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