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GROUP SUES FOR DATA ON BATTLEFIELD SITING

SHARE GROUP SUES FOR DATA ON BATTLEFIELD SITING

A military watchdog group still wants to know why Utah was chosen as the site for the now-defunct electronic battlefield.

Steve Erickson, a spokesman for Salt Lake-based Downwinders Inc., said the group will proceed with an Aug. 14 hearing in U.S. District Court in an attempt to compel the Air Force to turn over its siting information.Downwinders had filed a Freedom of Information Act suit for the materials, but the Air Force has declined to turn over any information about the project.

Earlier this year, U.S. Magistrate Calvin Gould ordered the Air Force to turn over information on the proposed $2.5 billion Electronic Combat Test Capability, which the military wanted to build in west Millard and Juab counties.

The facility would have been used to test the combat capabilities of supersonic fighters and other military hardware by simulating enemy attack radar and weapons systems.

The Air Force at first refused to turn over the information because it was "predecisional." Later, after plans for the battlefield were scrapped this spring, the Air Force said the Downwinders didn't need the information.

Instead of building the battlefield, the Air Force said it would expand existing ranges in California and Nevada.

Erickson, however, said the watchdog group will continue to seek release of a draft environmental impact statement on the project and materials used in picking Utah as one of the battlefield's primary sites.

Erickson said the group went before the court June 11.

"We submitted a list of requests for admission and interrogatories and asked for additional documents," he said. "They (the Air Force) have about 25 working days to respond, after which we will determine where we go from there."

Downwinders will argue that the Air Force's interpretation of the exemption in the FOIA law being used is wrong.