Thune Scouts for Ellsworth

Readers may remember the aggressive (and successful) fight waged by South Dakota Republican Sen. John Thune to save Ellsworth AFB, S.D., from the 2005 BRAC chopping block. The freshman legislator has been checking out potential new missions to add to the base’s B-1B bomber role. According to the Rapid City Journal, Thune spent two days out west last week touring Nellis AFB, Nev., and Edwards AFB, Calif., to see USAF’s new weapons systems. “We saw a lot of technologies that are emerging, … and they will be looking for basing opportunities,” he told the paper. Thune believes that the unrestricted airspace surrounding Ellsworth will be a big plus for future UAV missions or the Airborne Laser program. (That assumes ABL is still around in a few years.)