Thune discusses future plans regarding Ellsworth - KOTA Territory News

Thune discusses future plans regarding Ellsworth

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South Dakota's U.S. Senator John Thune says he is doing everything he can to get the bombers from Ellsworth Air Force Base back in the air.

Because of mandatory budget cuts, last week the Air Force grounded all combat aircraft that are not deployed, including Ellsworth B-1 bombers, for the rest of fiscal year 2013. Thune says he intends to talk to General Mike Hostage, who has jurisdiction over Ellsworth, to convey his concerns about grounding Ellsworth's B-1s for too long.

B-1's at Dyess, Texas are still flying because one squadron is preparing to deploy overseas and the other unit is a training squadron.

Thune is also concerned that Ellsworth will be a target for base closure, which is why continued focus needs to be placed on additional missions, and expanding the training range.

"It's entirely possible given the cuts the military is going to have to deal with in the future that they will attempt, through another BRAC round to try and close other bases, and the most excess capacity that currently exists is in Air Force bases," Thune says. 

Right now, B-1's deployed from Ellsworth will continue to fly in support of on-going combat operations until their return this summer.

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