The Air Force needs more airspace than just the massive Utah Test and Training Range to conduct its military operations, Hill Air Force Base officials announced Thursday.

To get the airspace it needs, which will be over Nevada, the Air Force will be approaching the public during upcoming meetings in Ely, Elko and West Wendover.

"The UTTR is a busy facility, conducting operational test and evaluation missions for the Department of Defense," said Hill's 388th Range Squadron Commander Col. James Reed.

Cruise missile and fifth-generation fighter jet testing in the UTTR is taking up a lot of time and space there. But pilots with the 388th and 419th wings at Hill need more, which is why the Air Force will be asking for access to 30-by-60 nautical miles, extending from 14,000 to 18,000 feet above sea level.

The announcement about the public hearings set in Nevada for next month marks the beginning stages of developing an environmental impact statement, a draft of which won't be ready until June 2008.