New upgrades for ranges to come


Nellis officials are planning significant target upgrades on bombing and gunnery ranges in Nevada and California, as well as nearly doubling the number of students attending the Expeditionary Readiness Training Course.

The proposed actions are detailed in three environmental assessments released for public comment. All three documents are available at www.nellis.af.mil/pa.htm.

The environmental assessments are: 

-- Installation of new urban operation complex targets and unmanned aerial vehicle targets for the Nevada Test and Training Range. The public comment period began March 23 and ended April 7. Comments submitted after the deadline will be considered as much as possible in the final document.

-- Target upgrades on Leach Lake Tactical Range at the National Training Center, Fort Irwin, Calif. The comment period began March 28 and ends April 28.

-- Expeditionary Readiness Training course expansion at the Nevada Test and Training Range. The comment period began April 5 and ends May 8.

Comments should be submitted in writing to Michael Estrada, 99ABW/PA, 4430 Grissom Ave, Ste 107, Nellis AFB NV 89191. 

The urban operations complex and UAV targets would include a weapons of mass destruction storage area, simulated buildings, anti-aircraft artillery and surface-to-air missile sites, bunkers, caves and vehicles.

The new targets would be located about 35 miles southeast of Tonopah, Nev. They would be on withdrawn land and are not accessible by the public.

The UAV targets would be built in a narrow canyon and would consist of tents, huts and buildings, anti-aircraft weapons site, military and civilian target vehicles and a weapons storage building.

Range officials said the new targets would improve, enhance and provide simulated combat training for pilots. “In order to fully prepare pilots for real-world missions, combat conditions must be replicated to the greatest extent possible. These targets are realistic for real-world conflicts that are occurring in combat theaters today,” the document states. 

The Leach Lake target range is located northeast of Barstow, Calif. Officials who manage the range said upgraded targets are needed to enhance realistic training for air liaison officers, forward air controllers-airborne, tactical air control parties, special tactics team members, and selected Army, Navy and Marine Corps.

The realistic training includes tactics, techniques and procedures in planning, requesting, coordinating and controlling close air support at the tactical level,” officials said.

Upgrades would include reconfiguring and rebuilding targets as money becomes available.

The Expeditionary Readiness Training course at Creech Air Force Base currently conducts 14 classes per year for 3,500 students. The Air Force would like to run 12 classes per year for a total of 6,000 students annually.

Construction at Silver Flag Alpha, south of Creech AFB, would include academic facilities, as well as laundry, showers, and latrines. It would also require upgrading of five small-arms training ranges and sewage services, electrical power and water sources.

Officials said the course expansion is necessary to ensure the Air Force “can adequately train sufficient numbers of security forces Airmen prior to deployment to combat areas and to sustain their continuation training needs in an environment that simulates realistic and current combat conditions.”

The officials added that Congress wants U.S. military forces to emphasize urban warfare training. Nellis officials said, “This urban warfare training is particularly essential to security forces. In addition to defending air base facilities during conflicts, they are now charged with force protection, humanitarian and anti-terrorism actions as well.”

All three environmental assessments examine all possible environmental impacts due to construction and operation of the target areas and training facilities. Environmental issues include air quality, soils and water resources, biological and cultural resources, environmental justice, hazardous materials and solid waste, noise, safety, and socio-economics.

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