Efforts in Washington and Lincoln seem to secure the future of Offutt Air Force Base in Nebraska.
Congressman Jeff Fortenberry leads efforts to improve Offutt Air Force Base near Omaha and keep the 55th Wing there.
First priority: repair the runway.
“The current status is that there are concrete chunks breaking off of it,” Fortenberry tells Nebraska Radio Network. “In fact, we had airmen have to physically walk the runway in order to insure that no damage would occur to an aircraft landing or taking off.”
Congress allocated money to design either to repair or replacement of the runway. The runway might have deteriorated past the point of repair. If that is the case, planes might have to be stored and operate out of the Air National Guard headquarters in Lincoln of Eppley Airfield in Omaha while the runway is being replaced.
At the state level, the Unicameral appropriated $14 million to upgrade the Missouri River levee protecting Offutt from floodwaters. Fortenberry calls the appropriation a strong statement from the Nebraska legislature of its support of Offutt.
Fortenberry says it appears Offutt is a priority of the Pentagon, with the role of the 55th Wing tied closely to the mission of Strategic Air Command, which occupies a new command center near Omaha.
“Because Strategic Command is co-located with Offutt that symbiotic relationship positions that security infrastructure to be an ongoing part of our overall nation’s capacity to defend ourselves,” according to Fortenberry
Concerns about the future of Offutt, and specifically the future of the 55th Wing at Offutt, began to grow more serious when the Air Force released a report stating it was at 30% excess inventory, which could spark another round of base closings.
AUDIO: Brent Martin reports [:50]