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First Rivet Joint recon airplanes return to Offutt

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Some of the RC-135 Rivet Joint aircraft that were evacuated from the flooded Offutt Air Force Base in Nebraska earlier this month have returned home.

Offutt spokesman Drew Nystrom said Friday that “several” of the reconnaissance aircraft returned on Thursday, and have begun flying regular training operations. He would not say exactly how many, citing operational security concerns, but said some of the planes were returning from MacDill Air Force Base in Florida and some came back from nearby Lincoln Air National Guard Base.

Those Rivet Joints returned nearly two weeks after flooding began March 15. Over that weekend, nine aircraft in all — eight RC-135s and one E-4B National Airborne Operations Center that belonged to Global Strike Command — were flown away from the base to keep them safe. Nystrom said he did not have any information on the status of Global Strike’s E-4B.

Earlier on Thursday, Offutt resumed limited daytime operations at its runway after inspections found the flooding — which at its worst swamped 3,000 feet of the base’s two-mile-long flightline — caused no structural problems.

Nystrom said on Thursday, before the first planes returned, that Offutt planned to proceed carefully as it brought planes back home, to avoid creating unnecessary risks.

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