OFFUTT AIR FORCE BASE, Neb. — A Nebraska congressman is backing the Air Force’s emergency request for $234 million to replace equipment and crew training simulators damaged by recent floodwaters that inundated the Offutt Air Force Base.
Rep. Don Bacon recently sent a letter to a House subcommittee saying that commanders in the field have already lost some defense capabilities after the Missouri and Platte rivers breached levees protecting the base in March.
Bacon, who served in the Air Force and commanded the Offutt-based 55th Wing, wrote that the loss of the electronics gear represents “significant risk to the National Defense Strategy,” the Omaha World-Herald reported.
"The longer the delay, the great(er) the risk and the costlier the recovery," he wrote.
“Mother Nature can’t beat the 55th Wing.”
The $234 million emergency funding request comes in addition to the $420 million that Air Force officials sought for repairs at the base. Earlier this month, the House passed a disaster assistance bill that would cover Midwest flooding, but the Senate hasn’t taken action yet.
Outgoing Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson said the base's recovery work will stop on July 1 if emergency funds aren't issued.
The three simulators that were destroyed in the flooding were designed to train crews on the functions of the base's fleet of RC-135 reconnaissance jets. The planes monitor radio, radar and other electronic signals above areas in Europe, Japan and the Middle East, Bacon said.
On May 1, Tyndall Air Force Base will be unable to pay for any new hurricane relief projects at the base. That's just the start.
Officials at the base said the simulators help signal-monitoring crews practice their work on the ground. They also allow maintenance crews to practice repairing the electronics gear.
Some Nebraska airmen have been relocated to Texas and England to train on their simulators.