Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.), who championed the fight to save the B-1B bombers at Ellsworth AFB, S.D., from BRAC 2005, obviously is not resting on his laurels. Thune plans to keep emphasizing the worth of Ellsworth. He met with Gen. Michael Moseley, Air Force Chief of Staff, last week to urge the Air Force to consider the South Dakota base for a new financial services center “and other operational missions.” According to Keloland TV news, Thune talked on Feb. 21 with base officials about expanding and enhancing the training range—extending it by three million acres of airspace—to open the door to other missions, such as unmanned aerial vehicles or as a training center for other US or foreign aircraft.
U.S. Air Force F-35s and F-22s regularly deploy deep into the Pacific region from Alaska, Utah, and Hawaii. In the future, though, the head of U.S. Indo-Pacific Command would like to see the Air Force permanently station fifth-generation aircraft west of the international date line—closer to China.