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Will change at range help Hill wing?

Switching which unit commands the sprawling Utah Test and Training Range may make an important difference for the 388th Fighter Wing, a congressional aide said.

The range in the Great Salt Lake Desert had been managed by the Air Force Materiel Command, which runs Hill Air Force Base's Ogden Air Logistics Center and four other weapons maintenance and repair centers.On Wednesday, the management was given to the Air Combat Command, which is over the Air Force's fighter and bomber wings, including Hill's 388th Fighter Wing.

"With the Air Combat Command in charge of the range, it couldn't hurt the 388th and it should help," said Bill Johnson, military affairs adviser to Rep. Jim Hansen, R-Utah.

The Pentagon recently recommended turning over 66 Air Force fighters to the Air Force Reserve or Air National Guard. Some planners said the 388th should be a candidate for supplying those planes, which threatens the wing's existence.

But that was before the Air Combat Command acquired direct control of the Utah Test and Training Range, Johnson said.

Members of Utah's congressional delegation have vowed to close the range if the 388th is taken from Hill.