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Hatch: Hill AFB Test Range Must Expand

Republican U.S. Sen. Orrin Hatch spoke to the state Senate Thursday to address national issues that could have some effect on Utah. Aside from   commenting on the ongoing friction between the federal government and the state over the Affordable Care Act, Hatch also touched on the Utah Test and Training Range at Hill Air Force Base.

Hatch said that the test range should be updated in response to new Air Force technology. In order to keep the base in Utah and the jobs connected with it, he said, lawmakers must find a way to enlarge the test range.

“With the modern aircraft that we have, our range is not quite large enough to take care of what has to be done. We have some very, very high tech airplanes that we’re [testing] right here in Utah and it’s a real tribute to our state to be able to do that,” Hatch said. “In order to really keep them here and continue the jobs that are really important jobs, we’re going to have to find a way of expanding the Utah Test and Training Range.”

Talk of moving or closing Hill Air Force Base has recurred in the past. The absence of the base would greatly affect not only the economy of Davis County, but the entire state as well. The base contributes over $1 billion to Utah’s economy. Hatch says that he has fought to keep the base throughout his tenure in the Senate.

“We don’t want to play with anything that currently exists at Hill Air Force Base, a base that is very efficient,” he said. “Thus far, over my 38 years we’ve been able to not only keep Hill Air Force Base and also go through a lot of battles that really would have cost us a great deal.”

Hill Air Force Base remains the sixth largest employers in the state.