The US Air Force (USAF) has revealed that the planned runway replacement project at the Offutt Air Force Base (AFB) has been delayed by nearly ten months.

The 55th Wing was scheduled to begin the replacement project in December. The delay means work will not start until October next year.

In a statement, the USAF said that the delay will be used to commence demolition and earthwork before winter.

The project is expected to enter the asphalt and concrete work phase by mid-2021 with completion of construction expected in October 2021.

The service will reopen the runway following inspections and Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) approval.

The $176m project is intended to eliminate the need for regular maintenance to the existing runway, which has sections that are more than 70 years old. The runway was built in 1941.

Once the replacement is completed, the 55th Wing will be able to continue its global intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance mission for at least 20 years without any major maintenance.

55th Wing Project Management Office engineering lead Rob Hufford said: “It is definitely needed. The 55th Civil Engineer Squadron is pouring man-hours and resources into our current runway just to keep it functioning.

“As it ages we have to put more time and money into it, but we still have the same amount of people and the same amount of money.”

Under the plans, the new runway will be narrower. However, it will have the same length.

The Offutt AFB’s runway will also include concrete landing zones with an asphalt centre and shoulders, the USAF said.

Hufford added: “The design we are going with is the model bases are going to across the airforce where we can.

“It’s faster to construct and it’s, in theory, easier to maintain. We can go through and do asphalt repairs in a couple hours, and it’s good to go. Whereas with concrete, you need a couple of days.”

Flight operations at the base will be relocated to Lincoln Airport (LNK) until the new runway is built.

The plan was originally intended to replace part of the runway.