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The Defense Department's decision to spend $23 million for construction projects at Mountain Home Air Force Base and Gowen Field is setting the stage for the new composite aircraft wing.

Of that total, $18.6 million will be spent on projects at Mountain Home and $4.4 million at the Boise airport, where Gowen Field is located."They're firming up our budget requests for the composite wing," said Master Sgt. Chris Aune, an air base spokesman. Construction at Mountain Home will start Oct. 1.

While the nation is cutting its overall military forces by one-third, it is expanding in Idaho.

A composite wing of several different types of aircraft will train as a unit at Mountain Home, and the F-4 Wild Weasel mission is coming to the Idaho Air National Guard at Gowen Field.

Wild Weasel aircraft flew in before bombers to knock out radar sites in the Persian Gulf war.

The 18 F-4G Phantom fighter planes also being transferred to the Air National Guard at Gowen Field will give the unit a new mission after 15 years of specializing in photo reconnaissance.

The Pentagon wants to keep quality units intact, Gary Vest, deputy assistant secretary of the Air Force, said in December.

Projects at Mountain Home include an aircraft engine shop, $4.7 million; a fire and crash rescue facility, $610,000; and alteration of a large aircraft dock, $1.7 million.

Also, alteration of an operations facility, $2.5 million; taxi-ways, $4.2 million; a combat munitions unit, $2.5 million; munitions storage and roads, $1.3 million; and an air transport hospital, $1.1 million.

Projects at Gowen Field include a munitions complex, $1.7 million; pod maintenance and storage, $570,000; and a weapons system shop, $2.1 million.