Chopper Base

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Grand Island's new temporary home for Nebraska Army National Guard helicopter unit had a visit from U.S. Senator Chuck Hagel.

The Nebraska Republican said after his tour Tuesday that the 60,000 square foot hanger is impressive. Construction of the permanent base is expected to begin in 2007.

Hagel says it will be an important asset to the state's ability to better protect the public in response to natural disasters and homeland security needs.

Last week, the Guard announced the first Chinook helicopters would arrive in Grand Island June 25. The Nebraska Army National Gurad said the U.S. Army is planning to station six CH47D Chinook helicopters and four light utility helicopters at the new Nebraska Army National Guard Aviation Flight Facility.

Originally, Guard officials planned to station eight AH64 Apache helicopters at the $17.5 million base in Grand Island. But because of ongoing national security demands, the Apache helicopters will remain in active duty.