Air Force Plan to Expand Training Complex Progresses

The Federal Aviation Administration is seeking public comment by early April on the Air Force’s plan to expand the size of the Powder River Training Complex in several Great Plains states, reports Montana’s Billings Gazette. This is one of the final steps in the process of approving the service’s proposal, according to the newspaper’s Feb. 19 report. The Air Force’s plan would quadruple the size of the complex’s training airspace to improve training realism for B-1 aircrews assigned to Ellsworth AFB, S.D., and B-52 aircrews at Minot AFB, N.D. Powder River, which runs through parts of Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Wyoming, would then host the largest terrestrial training airspace over the continental United States. The Air Force has yet to issue a record of decision on the proposal, which has met with some resistance from ranchers in Montana who say they are concerned about harm to livestock and range fires. On Feb. 18, Montana’s Senate delegation wrote Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Welsh opposing the plan, according to the newspaper.