RC-135 intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance aircraft from Offutt AFB, Neb., surpassed 24 years of continuous employment in support of US Central Command, officials announced. The 55th Wing has provided “unmatched electronic attack, command and control, intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance, theater missile warning, worldwide treaty verification operations, and agile combat support,” wing Commander Col. Marty Reynolds said in a Sept. 9 release. Rivet Joints accumulated 2,281 combined flying hours over 218 sorties across the Middle East and Southwest Asia over the last year, ending in June. They also assisted the Royal Air Force in the launch of its first RC-135 combat deployment supporting Operation Inherent Resolve. The British RC-135 added a 17 percent combined OIR-sortie increase by supporting operations over Iraq, according to the release. Air Combat Command awarded the wing the 2015 Meritorious Unit Award for its accomplishments.
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.