While jets from the Mountain Home Air Force Base are busy plying the skies over Saudi Arabia, Idaho officials are at work on a plan to ensure the base is operating when the pilots return.

Gov. Cecil Andrus' office and Idaho Department of Commerce are formulating a plan to locate, consolidate and offer some state lands to the Air Force to expand its Saylor Creek bombing range."The governor has made an effort of offering state resources to ensure the viability of the Mountain Home Air Force Base," said Scott Peyron, Andrus' press secretary.

"We are firmly convinced if we can't put something together at all, we're probably in big trouble," said Dave Jett, project coordinator for the Commerce Department. "We're not ready to talk about it yet."

Air base public affairs officer Sgt. Bud McKay said he has heard no rumblings about the state projects, and Idaho Lands Director Stan Hamilton also disavows any knowledge.

The Air Force proposed expanding Saylor Creek about 15-fold up to 2.6 million acres but was met with solid opposition from both environmentalists and ranchers in southwestern Idaho. Military officials suggested the base's future was in danger if Saylor Creek could not grow.