|U.S. Senator Joni Ernst, along with the full Iowa delegation, received notice from the U.S. Air National Guard that the RC-26 aircraft will remain based in Iowa at this time. The RC-26 aircraft is designed to counter drug trafficking and assist in counterterrorism efforts, and plays an important role in the Iowa Counterdrug Task Force.
In a November 17, 2016, letter led by Senator Ernst, along with Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA), and Congressmen Rod Blum (R-01), Dave Loebsack (D-02), David Young (R-03), and Steve King (R-04), the delegation urged the Air National Guard to provide due consideration in determining whether or not the plane would remain stationed at the Des Moines Airport in Iowa. Their letter stressed the value of the RC-26 to the Iowa Counterdrug Task Force, citing that “the RC-26 aircraft has flown over 35 flight hours, including missions for 10 federal and state agencies, and helped seize over $566,900 dollars in methamphetamine in Fiscal Year (FY) 2016. In FY2015, it helped seize 20 illegal weapons, over $500,000 in methamphetamine, and $4,000 in heroin.”
Following the notice that the RC-26 aircraft will continue being based in Iowa, members of the delegation issued the following statements:
“The RC-26 aircraft has been of invaluable service to the Iowa Air National Guard and law enforcement in completing a number of missions, including the combating of illegal drug trafficking,” said Ernst, a combat veteran. “I am pleased to know that Iowa law enforcement can continue to partner with the Iowa Air National Guard to enhance our efforts to fight illicit drugs and threats to our homeland.”
“This is great news,” said Grassley, chairman of the Judiciary Committee and Caucus on International Narcotics Control. “I appreciate Lieutenant General Rice’s assuring me that this aircraft will remain in Iowa. Protecting the homeland and fighting illicit drugs are public safety concerns that are among the government’s core responsibilities. This aircraft has proven its value to law enforcement, and I look forward to further achievements in the future.”
“I am pleased that the U.S. Air National Guard will continue to base its RC-26 aircraft in Iowa, which helps the Iowa National Guard respond to disaster relief efforts. With Iowa’s history of flooding, as well as the recent devastating storms that recently ravaged communities like Muscatine, Seymour and Centerville, this ‘eye in the sky’ helps coordinate efforts on the ground in the event of a natural disaster,” said Loebsack.
“I am both pleased and encouraged to learn that the U.S. Air National Guard will continue to base the RC-26 aircraft in Iowa,” said King. “Its overwhelming success in both countering illegal drug trafficking and abetting counterterrorism efforts is undeniable and has proven invaluable to our Iowa law enforcement in the Iowa Counterdrug Task Force.”