Combat Raider, a military exercise involving various aircraft, began Tuesday and will continue through Thursday in the Powder River Training Complex that spans parts of Montana, Wyoming and the Dakotas.
Aircraft involved include the B-52, B-2, B-1, Joint Surveillance Target Attack Radar (J-STAR), Airborne Warning and Control System (AWACS), F-35, F-16, C-17 and KC-135. This exercise marks the first time the F-35 will fly in the PRTC airspace and the first time the C-17 will participate.
This exercise will require the 28th Bomb Wing to extend airfield operating hours until Thursday. Residents of Ellsworth Air Force Base and surrounding communities can expect to hear noises in the late evening hours associated with flying aircraft and maintenance activities.
The exercise will also use the Temporary Rushmore Air Traffic Control Assigned Airspace. The TRATCAA is the same geographic airspace as the PRTC, but extended vertically up to 51,000 feet.
During this period, people living under the following PRTC military operations areas can expect to see multiple types of aircraft utilizing the areas simultaneously: Powder River One, Powder River Two, Powder River Three, Powder River Four, and Gaps A, B and C.
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All bomber supersonic activities will occur more than 20,000 feet above mean sea level and all transient fighter supersonic activity will occur more than 10,000 feet above ground level. People living under Powder River Two, Powder River Three, and Gap B should expect to be affected; however, sonic boom activity is possible throughout the entire PRTC.
A map of the airspace is available for reference on the Ellsworth AFB website at https://www.ellsworth.af.mil/Home/Powder-River-Training-Complex/.
Non-military pilots should review the Federal Aviation Administration’s Notices to Airmen, or NOTAMs, and review flight plans to avoid these areas and altitudes where aircraft will be participating by calling 1-800-WXBRIEF.
The NOTAMs for the exercise, issued by the FAA 72 hours prior to its start, will act as the final official notice.