WASHINGTON --- America’s aging C-135 reconnaissance planes keep breaking down, and alarmed lawmakers want the U.S. Air Force to tell them why.
Based at Offutt Air Force Base, Nebraska, the 55th Wing’s Boeing-made reconnaissance and intelligence-gathering aircraft, all more than 50 years old, are meant to carry out critical missions from operating bases in England, Greece, Japan and Qatar.
But an Omaha World-Herald investigative series has found that mechanical problems plague the jets, cutting short 500 of their flights since 2016 and one of every 12 missions since 2015. That’s prompted Nebraska lawmakers to write to Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson, urging her to probe and report on the health of the 55th Wing’s worn-out fleet.
Meanwhile, the Nebraska delegation is trying to fend off an effort within Congress to strip funding to recapitalize the OC-135, which conducts overflights of Russia under the 34-nation Open Skies Treaty. Some lawmakers and Pentagon officials have grown skeptical of the treaty, which allows reciprocal surveillance flights, amid alleged Russian violations, but the administration has requested funds for two new airliners to take over the mission. (end of excerpt)
Click here for the full story, on the Defense News website.