WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, the House and Senate Conference Committee released the text of the Fiscal Year 2019 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). U.S. Senator Deb Fischer (R-Neb.) served as a member of the conference committee where she included language that calls on the Secretary of Defense, in consultation with the Secretary of the Air Force, to assess the readiness of the airframes based at Offutt Air Force Base. She also protected language to ensure proper maintenance for critical airframes used by the 55th Wing and protected the funding in the Senate bill to acquire two new planes to replace the OC-135B Open Skies.
“Ensuring the safety and readiness of our airmen at Offutt is a top priority for me. As a member of the conference committee, I was pleased to include a provision requiring a new assessment of the health of the C-135 fleet. I also successfully retained language from the Senate NDAA to upgrade planes used by the 55th Wing in critical national security missions,” said Senator Fischer.
As a conferee, Senator Fischer secured language directing the Secretary of Defense to submit a report to the congressional defense committees on the C-135 aircraft. The report should cover issues regarding safety, aircraft availability, mission capability rates, sustainment, maintenance, and reliability. It will also direct the Secretary to describe the acquisition strategy which will ultimately be used to recapitalize each version of the C-135 aircraft.
The conference report includes provisions Fischer fought for directing investments in new planes to replace the OC-135B for Open Skies missions and new planes to upgrade the WC-135 Constant Phoenix, as well as funds to upgrade the RC-135s. This language was included in the Senate NDAA as a result of a bipartisan amendment championed in committee by Senator Fischer.
Recently, Fischer led the Nebraska congressional delegation in a letter to Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson requesting clarification about issues with the C-135 fleet at Offutt. Last week, Fischer met with Secretary Wilson in person and received the Air Force’s response to the letter.