MILITARY

Federal Aviation Administration gives airspace expansion over Northern Plains final approval

  • FILE - In this Aug. 9, 2007, file photo, B-52 bombers taxi to the runway at Minot Air Force Base in Minot, N.D. On Tuesday, March 24, 2015, the Federal Aviation Administration gave final approval for a plan to establish an enormous bomber training area over the northern Plains that advocates say will improve military training and save money. The plan would expand the Powder River Training Complex over the Dakotas, Montana and Wyoming. The move quadruples the training airspace, making it the largest over the continental United States. (AP Photo/The Minot Daily News, Eloise Ogden, File)

    FILE - In this Aug. 9, 2007, file photo, B-52 bombers taxi to the runway at Minot Air Force Base in Minot, N.D. On Tuesday, March 24, 2015, the Federal Aviation Administration gave final approval for a plan to establish an enormous bomber training area over the northern Plains that advocates say will improve military training and save money. The plan would expand the Powder River Training Complex over the Dakotas, Montana and Wyoming. The move quadruples the training airspace, making it the largest over the continental United States. (AP Photo/The Minot Daily News, Eloise Ogden, File)  (The Associated Press)

  • This July 24, 2012 photo provided by the U.S. Air Force shows a B-1 bomber rumbling down the flightline at Ellsworth Air Force Base, S.D., as part of a training mission. On Tuesday, March 24, 2015, the Federal Aviation Administration gave final approval for a plan to establish an enormous bomber training area over the northern Plains that advocates say will improve military training and save money. The plan would expand the Powder River Training Complex over the Dakotas, Montana and Wyoming. The move quadruples the training airspace, making it the largest over the continental United States.  (AP Photo/U.S. Air Force, Airman 1st Class Zachary Hada)

    This July 24, 2012 photo provided by the U.S. Air Force shows a B-1 bomber rumbling down the flightline at Ellsworth Air Force Base, S.D., as part of a training mission. On Tuesday, March 24, 2015, the Federal Aviation Administration gave final approval for a plan to establish an enormous bomber training area over the northern Plains that advocates say will improve military training and save money. The plan would expand the Powder River Training Complex over the Dakotas, Montana and Wyoming. The move quadruples the training airspace, making it the largest over the continental United States. (AP Photo/U.S. Air Force, Airman 1st Class Zachary Hada)  (The Associated Press)

Federal aviation regulators have given final approval to establish an enormous bomber training area over the Northern Plains.

U.S. Sen. John Thune of South Dakota said Tuesday that the Federal Aviation Administration approved a plan to expand the Powder River Training Complex over North Dakota, South Dakota, Montana and Wyoming. Spanning across nearly 35,000 square miles, it will be the largest training airspace over the continental U.S.

The airspace will be used by B-1 bombers at Ellsworth Air Force Base in South Dakota and B-52 bombers at Minot Air Force Base in North Dakota.

Thune says the expansion will help prevent the closure of Ellsworth, improve national security and save on fuel costs.

Critics say the bombers will disrupt rural communities and businesses, and scare livestock.