Monday, August 19, 2013

After B-1 crashes future of PRTC, sage grouse habitat uncertain

This morning I tweeted these:



Thirty minutes later, another incident in the Powder River Training Complex in southeastern Montana grounded operations at Ellsworth Air Force Base near Rapid City, South Dakota. Accidents have plagued the aircraft:
Back in 1997, [a B-1B attached to] the 28th Bomb Wing of the 37th Bomb Squadron from Ellsworth crashed in Alzada, Montana. That is in the same county as Monday's crash. Unfortunately, in that crash the four crew members lost their lives. One year later, in 1998, the same Bomb Wing crashed into the Indian Ocean on its way to a combat mission in Afghanistan. Those four crew members survived and were rescued by a Navy ship in the area. [Sammi Bjelland, KELO]
Snipped from the Black Hills Pioneer:
On Dec. 12, 2001, a B-1 crashed into the Indian Ocean near the island of Diego Garcia. A cause has never been determined. The crew had reported having difficulty controlling the bomber. All four crewmen ejected safely, including the pilot and co-pilot, who were from Ellsworth. The aircraft was destroyed.
From a piece by the AP's Dirk Lammers in the Great Falls Tribune:
In April 2008, an Ellsworth B-1B bomber caught fire after landing at al-Udeid Air Base in Qatar. The crew members all escaped safely. A month earlier, an Ellsworth B-1B collided with two emergency-response vehicles during landing after reporting an in-flight emergency at Andersen Air Force Base in Guam.
RT @CharlesSDPB: "Ellsworth Officials: on average it costs over $14,000 per hour in fuel alone to fly a B1 Bomber. In total a B1 costs an average of over $43,000 dollars/hour to fly. But some worry cutbacks come as N. Korea heats up."

Recall this from Tom Lutey's piece in the Billings Gazette:
Ellsworth Air Force Base officials say plans for a South Carolina-sized training area over portions of four western states are moving ahead. A key piece of the approval process, a final environmental impact statement, has not been finalized. Spokesman Maj. Matthew Reese said the EIS is out of Ellsworth’s hands. The base has moved on to arranging meetings with state and tribal governments in Montana, Wyoming, North Dakota and South Dakota.
There were numerous concerns when the Air Force held public hearings about the 27,500-square-mile Powder River Training Complex in 2009. Two years ago, U.S. Sens. Max Baucus and Jon Tester, D-Mont., asked the Air Force not to expand the PRTC into southeastern Montana.
After the 1997 crash of a B-1 in Carter County a responding volunteer firefighter from Alzada told this interested party the multi-million dollar aircraft was brought down by a rancher with a .30-30 Winchester.

There is a movement in DC aimed at convening the Base Realignment and Closure Commission (BRAC) so the move to ground the EAFB aircraft should come as little surprise to Rep. Krusti Noem (earth hater-SD).

With voices of the cut, cut, cut from her ALEC/Tea Party handlers in one ear while the armed services industry in her other ear telling her that they are worried about losing their cushy relationships with Ellsworth Air Force Base, Noem mused in committee:
the least disruption to national readiness was to "first focus on support systems such as military schools . . . rather than going after -- seeking to close bases that house bombers or fighter wings."
Ellsworth's sister brother codependent facility, Malmstrom AFB in Great Falls, Montana recently failed a key nuclear weapons evaluation.

It's time for endangered sage grouse to get a reprieve from extirpation: close this training range and convert Ellsworth to a fire-fighting tanker base.

In a weird coinkydink this post has gotten over 230 hits since yesterday: what a strange day.

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