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Offutt Air Force Base planes set to fly out of Lincoln Airport in December

An OC-135B Open Skies aircraft takes off at Offutt Air Force Base, Neb.

JOSH PLUEGER/U.S. AIR FORCE PHOTO

By MATT OLBERDING | The Lincoln Journal Star | Published: January 26, 2019

LINCOLN, Neb. (Tribune News Service) — 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.

The wing 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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