Airing the Powder

The Air Force on Monday (June 16) began a series of public scoping meetings mandated by US environmental laws to discuss its proposed expansion of the Power River Complex near Ellsworth AFB, S.D., to provide more realistic air combat training opportunities closer to home for B-1B bomber aircrews out of Ellsworth and B-52H crews from Minot AFB, N.D. The first of the meeting took place in Rapid City, S.D. USAF would like to realign the complex’s airspace—increasing it overall—add ground-based simulated threat emitters, and create special-use airspace in which bombers could employ defensive chaff and flares and fly at supersonic speeds at low altitudes. If the changes go through, the site would be renamed as the Power River Training Complex. The public meetings will continue through mid July with residents of communities in Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Wyoming that are underlying or adjacent to the expanded complex. The public comment period to voice concerns over the environmental impact of the expansion will end in early August. Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) said he is glad that the process is moving forward, as he has been a major proponent of the expansion over the past two years, the Rapid City Journal reported June 11.