MINOT AIR FORCE BASE With Minot Air Force Base as the preferred site for a second squadron of B-52 bombers, a team will visit the base early next month to help plan for the new unit.
"The bottom line is a lot of the planning is still to be determined, said Lt. Col. Monte Harner, commander of the base's 5th Civil Engineer Squadron.
Harner spoke Thursday at the Minot Area Chamber of Commerce's Military Affairs Committee's meeting in Minot.
Harner said SATAF the Site Activation Task Force is a team that comes in and helps the base with planning for the new squadron.
He said the team "determines our facility requirements and helps lay out the renovations and new buildings that are needed to support this new mission that's coming in."
Harner said another team earlier visited the base as part of the determination to select which base was going to receive the new B-52 squadron.
Early last year, officials announced that a second squadron of B-52s was planned for the Minot base. In November, the Pentagon officially announced that Minot was the preferred location for the new squadron. Pending a favorable environmental impact analysis, a final decision then will be announced.
The new B-52 squadron is projected to bring upward of around 1,000 more military members plus family members to the base.
Harner said plans for the new squadron include some renovation work in the Pride Building, a large building on base where the existing 23rd Bomb Squadron is located. The new squadron, called the 69th Bomb Squadron will also be located there, he said.
"Right now we're projecting to get two additional docks two new hangars...," he said.
He said the plan also includes renovation of the existing aircraft maintenance unit as well as a new building to house an additional aircraft maintenance unit. There will also be several more munitions storage facilities.
Because of the increased population "which is just under 500 currently being projected," he said an estimate of 120 new homes and 72 more dormitory spaces are needed.
The base has a plan for several new dorms which calls for 144-room dorms but Harner said that has been expanded to 168 rooms to plan for the new squadron.
The additional homes will still be to be determined, he said.
Pending a favorable environmental impact analysis, the B-52 squadron would stand up at Minot AFB by late this year, early 2010 timeframe, according to Air Force officials.
Representatives of the Nuclear Warfare Center also are expected to visit the base to look over its infrastructure.
Last fall Sen. Kent Conrad, D-N.D., made the case to Air Force Secretary Michael Donley for Minot to be the headquarters for a munitions group that would help oversee the operation of Air Force weapons storage areas nationwide.
The location of the munitions group has not been announced yet, said Col. Steven Basham, vice commander of the base's 5th Bomb Wing. The center representatives' visit is expected to be part of that process.
North Dakota's congressional delegation has been urging the Air Force to establish the new nuclear command, Global Strike Command, at the Minot base. Both the 5th Bomb Wing and the 91st Missile Wing will be in the new command.
The congressional delegation said Minot AFB is the perfect location for the new nuclear command because it is the only base with two nuclear wings intercontinental ballistic missiles and B-52 bombers.