The last of 20 public hearings took place this week on the Air Force’s plans to expand the Powder River Training Complex out of Ellsworth AFB, S.D., for more realistic bomber training. The attendees appeared split over the plan during Tuesday’s meeting in Billings, Mont., reported the Billings Gazette. Opponents were concerned about noise levels and the effects on local commercial pilots and flights as well as livestock. However, supporters argued that the expansion was necessary to prepare bomber pilots better for combat, according to the newspaper. The Air Force would like to establish new low-altitude airspace and high-altitude training areas to give B-1B aircrews from Ellsworth and B-52 crews from Minot AFB, N.D., more room to train. The complex covers parts of Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Wyoming. The Air Force intends to make a final decision next fall.
The U.S. supports “a stronger and more capable” European defense, Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III said during an Oct. 22 press conference in Brussels—but that defense should not duplicate the functions and capabilities of the NATO alliance.