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Air Force space squadron to operate out of Hawaii facility

LIHUE, Hawaii — The U.S. Air Force has approved a naval facility and airport as the preferred alternative site for a technical squadron tasked with monitoring satellites in support of the national security space mission.

The Space Control Squadron would operate out of the Barking Sands Pacific Missile Range Facility in western Kauai, the Garden Island reported Tuesday.

"By selecting a site on Kauai, the Air Force will create a new, highly technical squadron to monitor U.S. satellites in support of the national security space mission, ensuring that the military and other national security agencies have access to satellite communication, intelligence, and key information," federal officials said in a news release.

This decision reaffirms the importance of Hawaii's strategic role in national security, Democratic U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz said.

"This new unit will help strengthen the Air Force's space capabilities and advance our national security interests," he said.

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The unit is also expected to bring more federal funds and jobs to the state, Schatz said. The squadron would support 88 new Hawaii Air National Guard positions, including 29 full-time positions and 59 part-time positions.

"We welcome the additional employment opportunities for our local folks, particularly in the areas of science, math and technology," Kauai Mayor Derek Kawakami said.

The basing process is expected to be completed by 2020, with the unit becoming partially operational by 2021 and fully operational by 2022, federal officials said.

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