OFFUTT AIR FORCE BASE, Neb. — Offutt Air Force Base just south of Omaha has been selected as one of five finalists for location of a drone wing mission control unit.

Drones would be controlled from that site, but no aircraft would be assigned to Offutt, The Lincoln Journal Star (http://bit.ly/2cKROUt ) reported.

The proposed drone mission would host an operations group with mission control elements for the MQ-9 Reaper, which is used as the primary offensive strike drone for the U.S. Air Force.

The announcement that Offutt was chosen as one of the five finalists out of nearly 20 bases that applied to host the unmanned aerial vehicle mission follows the Pentagon’s decision in June to allocate $55 million to repair Offutt’s deteriorating runway.

“Offutt is a critical driver of Omaha’s economy and we must keep working to strengthen the future of Offutt,” Rep. Brad Ashford (D-Omaha) said.

The runway renovation is seen as a critical element in efforts to retain and secure the 55th Wing and its 5,500 civilian and military jobs located at Offutt. Offutt also hosts the U.S. Strategic Command’s headquarters, which appears to be tethered to the base with construction of its new $1.2 billion complex.

“If Offutt is selected for this new mission next year, the future of Offutt and the entire Omaha area will be stronger,” Ashford said.

The Air Force said other bases being considered for the drone mission are located in Arizona, Georgia, Idaho and South Carolina.

“This new mission could help position the base to thrive for years to come,” Gov. Pete Ricketts said.


Information from: Lincoln Journal Star, http://www.journalstar.com