Gen. Ron Keys, head of Air Combat Command, says he “very proud” of the 55th Wing maintainers who haven’t yet failed to send an aircraft off on its mission. This is the unit whose RC-135 Rivet Joints have amassed more than 6,000 days of continuous deployment. Keys considers this no mean feat since “we’re riding these aircraft hard and the wing’s RC-135s, on average, are 45 years old.” During an interview with TSgt. A.J. Bosker at Offutt AFB, Neb., the home of the 55th, where he held an ACC Commanders’ Conference, Keys pointed out that the age issue by itself is not the only concern ACC faces with these aircraft. He said, “We don’t yet know what unseen affect the fine dust and extreme desert heat will have and what kind of toll that’s going to take down the road.”
The U.S. supports “a stronger and more capable” European defense, Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III said during an Oct. 22 press conference in Brussels—but that defense should not duplicate the functions and capabilities of the NATO alliance.