The Air Force officially opened the new Dakota Air Traffic Control Facility Aug. 20 on the grounds of Ellsworth AFB, S.D. after two years of planning and nearly $10 million in investment. The facility is the service’s first non-contiguous, co-located radar approach control facility, providing radar air traffic services both to Ellsworth and Minot AFB, N.D.—which are 265 nautical miles apart—along with Rapid City Regional Airport, Minot International Airport, and small airports within that airspace. “Our new location is unique to the Air Force because of the great distance between Minot and Ellsworth,” said CMSgt. Brian Lavoie, 28th Operations Support Squadron RAPCON chief controller. Nine air traffic controllers are relocating to Ellsworth to join Ellsworth’s 30 controllers. (Ellsworth report by SrA. Kasey Zickmund)
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.