Powder River Expansion Approved

The Federal Aviation Administration approved the Air Force’s plan to expand the Powder River Training Complex to create the continental US’ largest training airspace by year’s end. “After nearly nine years working with the Air Force on this important expansion project, we’re not only going to see savings to the tune of $23 million a year at Ellsworth [AFB, S.D.], but we’re also going to offer better training opportunities to our airmen,” said Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.), who pushed the project. Powder River will expand to 35,000 square miles—nearly four times its current size—spanning the Dakotas, Montana, and Wyoming, according to a March 24 release from Thune’s office. The expanded range will give B-1s from Ellsworth and B-52s from Minot AFB, N.D., training venues close to home, saving time, fuel, and wear and tear on aircraft commuting to and from distant ranges. Powder River will be divided into high, medium, and low-altitude sectors, with provision for 10 days of large-force exercise annually.