U.S. Senator Roy Blunt abd Colonel Ed Black

U.S. Sen. Roy Blunt stands next to Col. Ed Black from the 139th Airlift Wing on Friday as they discuss a $250 million relocation of the Air National Guard base at Rosecrans Airport.

A plan to shift the air base at Rosecrans Airport slightly north continues to progress as Missouri’s senior U.S. senator visited the site Friday to tout the decades-old relocation proposal.

The plan calls for 17 new facilities, four of which already have been built with two more currently under construction.

“The technical equipment, the simulated equipment and the communication equipment all are easier to incorporate into a new base than it would be to continue to be there (at the existing facility),” said Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Missouri. “At the same time, that allows an economic development opportunity there that wouldn’t have been there before the levee work that is being completed now.”

The location of the new base for the 139th Airlift Wing is just to the north of the existing one and sits on 86 acres of land that is considered to be slightly elevated, something that is a critical infrastructure need given historic flooding, including in 1993 and as recently as this year.

“Simply put, north base is higher ground,” said Col. Ed Black, commander of the 139th Airlift Wing of the Missouri Air National Guard. “The second reason is our base was built in the 1950s. The layout of our base where the fence line is, the structure and size of our base, we no longer operate on a 1950s operation.”

Another concern is security. The base often hosts scores of foreign military assets from NATO and even Russia.

“We need a modern facility to protect that operation,” Black said. “Our base on the south, although we are doing a pretty good job, it has some limitations that we just can’t get around without a new construction.”

Black estimated the cost of the relocation to be $250 million.

Mark Zinn can be reached

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