A Nebraska Congressman who sits on the House Foreign Affairs Committee is attempting to convince fellow lawmakers to upgrade America’s ageing RC-135 spy planes, all of which are stationed at Offutt Air Force Base.
Congressman Jeff Fortenberry tells Nebraska Radio Network affiliate, KLIN, the planes are necessary for building trust with adversaries like Russia to establish communication and find common ground. He says nothing builds trust like mutual reconnaissance.
“The aircraft that are stationed at Offutt are a part of that,” says Fortenberry. He explains that Russia and the U.S have had an agreement in place since 2002 allowing each other’s countries to gather intelligence on each other called The Treaty on Open Skies.
“It’s a confidence building measure that allows us to see what they’re doing and allows them to see what they’re doing,” says Fortenberry. He says because of the nuclear capabilities of both countries, reconnaissance missions are vital to both the Kremlin and the Pentagon.
Fortenberry says while the RC-135s are well maintained, they were built in the 1960s and the time has come for change.
He’s preparing a final push in Congress to fund a new fleet.