Fallon Range Training Complex (FRTC)
The Fallon Range Training Complex (FRTC) is enclosed within a Military Operating Area (MOA) which overlays 6.5 million acres. Embedded within the MOA are four separate training ranges: Bravos 16, 17, 19, and 20; an integrated air defense system comprised of 37 real or simulated radars throughout the Dixie Valley area; and a supersonic flying area. The four ranges and various electronic warfare sites comprise 84,000 acres of withdrawn land (1.3% of the MOA). The entire FRTC is instrumented with a Tactical Aircrew Combat Training System (TACTS).
The FRTC is the focal point for all Navy, and some Marine, graduate level aviation strike warfare training. This training is under the cognizance of NSAWC, which develops realistic combat training scenarios for military aircrew flying high performance jet aircraft and helicopters, employing state of the art military equipment and tactics. The FRTC offers a unique configuration of land, airspace, targets, and instrumentation which allows for levels of combat training not available elsewhere.
The Fallon Range Training Complex (FRTC) is located in western Nevada approximately 50 NMI east of Reno, NV. The complex provides a Tactical Aircrew Combat Training Systems (TACTS), an electronic warfare (EW) range, a wide variety of air-to-ground targets, and extensive airspace all contributing significantly to Fleet air training operations. Aircraft tracking service is available in the TACTS area for TACTS-capable aircraft. This complex is controlled by NAS Fallon.
The FRTC is composed of the following targets and instrumented areas:
- Bravo 16 (R-4803)
- Bravo 17 (R-4804)
- Bravo 19 (R-4810)
- Bravo 20 (R-4802/R-4813)
- Fallon Electronic Warfare Range (Includes R-4816)
- Fallon TACTS Range
The following Military Operating Areas (MOA), Air Traffic Control Assigned Airspace (ATCAA), and training areas are associated with the Fallon complex:
- Sand Springs (R-4812)
- Austin MOA/ATCAA
- Gabbs MOA/ATCAA
- Ranch MOA
- Carson MOA
- Bengus ATCAA
- Supersonic Operating Area (SOA)
Specific training conducted within the FRTC includes:
(1) Carrier Air Wing Training. NSAWC and Fallon host four to six carrier air wings per year conducting an intensive four-week training program approximately six months prior to their deployment aboard aircraft carriers. This integrated training focuses on combat tactics and team building by allowing aircrew to plan and execute realistic air-to-air and air-to-ground scenarios in a complex threat environment. Fallon training is essential to our combat readiness before our air wings can deploy.
(2) Advanced Instructor Training. These flying courses of instruction are tailored to individual aircraft communities (e.g., Top Gun, which is for strike fighter aircrew) and consist of six to ten weeks of personalized instruction to develop a tactics and training expert for each of our aviation units.
(3) Fleet Replacement Squadron Training. Initial air-to-air and air-to-ground instruction in the F/A-18 and F-14 aircraft is conducted at Fallon in the form of 14 to 16 two-week detachments from either Lemoore, CA; Cecil Field, FL; or Oceana, VA (the home bases of the fleet replacement squadrons).
(4) Integrated air-to-air and air-to-ground unit level training. This training is conducted by individual aviation units which deploy to Fallon for one to two week deployments approximately 18 to 20 times per year.
(5) Additional flight activity includes joint exercises and tactics development.
Fallon training is essential to Navy readiness. The 38,000 sorties flown and 76 per cent utilization rate of the range in calendar year 1998 are on a par with Nellis Air Force Base activity. Of the 1,310 Navy aircrew who participated in Desert Storm, 1,298 flew at Fallon. The challenge at Fallon is to upgrade existing facility, training techniques, and scenarios to react to a threat which is increasing in complexity, is more mobile, and requires increased coordination with ground forces. Both of the 1999 land withdrawal initiatives will allow Fallon to keep pace with this threat.
NAS Fallon Military Operating Areas cover an area of over 10,000 square miles. Included within these MOAs is the Fallon Supersonic Operating Area and four bombing ranges:
Bravo-16 (R4803) is located 9 NM southwest (222 DEG) of NAS Fallon at an altitude of 3942 feet. The soil in the range area is saline in nature with extensive alkali flats and areas of patchy desert sand and sparsely vegetated by sagebrush. Red Mountain is four miles west, the Dead Camel Mountains are one to two miles west to southwest, and the Desert Mountains are eight miles south. During Winter-Spring periods with higher than normal precipitation events, drainage in this range and the immediate area surrounding the range is generally fair to poor. Shallow surface water will have an impact on general range conditions as well as in the general vicinity of target sites and should be incorporated into target forecasts for a one to two week period following a significant precipitation event.
Bravo-17 (R4804) is located 23 NM east-southeast (099 DEG) of NAS Fallon at an altitude of 4153 feet. The soil in the range itself is alkali flats in the northern extreme giving way to a rocky terrain along the west and east foothills and patchy areas of desert sand sparsely vegetated by sagebrush along a gently sloping foothill at the southern extreme. The range is flanked on the west by the Sand Spring Mountains and on the east by Fairview Peak. Of all the Fallon ranges, this range is the most frequently used. During Winter-Spring periods of higher than normal precipitation events, drainage in this range and the immediate area surrounding the range is relatively good resulting in little impact on actual range conditions.
Bravo-19 (R4810) is located 16 NM south-southeast (163 DEG) of NAS Fallon at an altitude of 3882 feet. The soil in the range is alkali with areas of patchy desert sand sparsely vegetated by sagebrush. The Sand Spring Mountains are four miles east of the range and the Desert Mountains are nine miles west. During Winter-Spring periods of higher than normal precipitation events, drainage in this range and the immediate area surrounding the range is relatively good resulting in little impact on range conditions.
Bravo-20 (R4802) is located 31 NM north-northeast (013 DEG) of NAS Fallon at an altitude of 4040 feet at Lone Rock with the flats at 3890 feet. The soil in the range area consists of salt and alkali flats. The Stillwater Mountain Range is seven miles east. The West Humboldt range is to the west and northwest. During Winter-Spring periods of higher than normal precipitation events, drainage in this range and the immediate area surrounding the range is very poor. This often results in extensive areas of shallow surface water surrounding the general area around many of the target sites. This condition can persist from two to four weeks at a time. Although target sites are not actually impacted by this surface water, consideration of a higher than normal moisture content of the soil must be considered and utilized when providing targeting and range information.
The B-20 range itself has been operational since 1944 and is composed of 41,007 acres. B-20 is a combination of 21,576 acres of land withdrawn in 1986 in a checkerboard pattern with 19,431 acres of land the Navy acquired from the Southern Pacific Land Company in 1982. The range sits in the Carson Sink drainage, a large alkali lake bed, which is partially flooded depending on the amount of annual rainfall.
The B-20 range is used for a large percentage of Navy and Marine Corps training, including air-to-ground bombing, strafing, and laser ranging and targeting. The range contains basic infrastructure, including two bull's-eyes, two strafing banners, a mock submarine target, run-in lighting, and scoring system. The range also provides a high explosive impact target area for up to 2,000 pound weapons. It is the only Navy range authorized for use with 2,000 pound laser guided weapons and is the primary site for live ordnance training in the FRTC. In addition to the 14 million dollars in infrastructure development completed in 1989, the Navy sought programming for an additional 20 million dollars between 1999 and 2005 to further enhance our training capability. This is in response to a multitude of tactical target requirements, including weapons of mass destruction and urban target sets which grow increasingly complex, as well as to reduce operational pressure to allow maintenance and clean-up on the other tactical target in the complex.
The Electronic Warfare Range is located 23 NM east (088 DEG) of NAS Fallon in the southern Dixie Valley at an altitude of 4170 feet. The soil in the general range area is primarily desert sand moderately vegetated by sagebrush and a variety of high desert type plants. The southern Stillwater Mountains are to the west and the Clan Alpine Mountains are just to the east. During Winter-Spring periods of higher than normal precipitation events, drainage in this range and the immediate area surrounding the range is good resulting in no impact on general range conditions. This area, together with B-17, is the most frequently used training destination for pilots flying out of NAS Fallon.
One action the Navy brought before Congress in 1999 was the withdrawal of Public Lands for Range Safety and Training purposes (RST). This proposal will withdraw 127,365 acres of federally administered lands (BLM) around existing ranges in order to accomplish two objectives: increase public safety and improve training. The Navy will manage the land in two different categories: Category "A" lands will have limited access to ensure public safety, while Category "B" lands will be managed for joint public and military use.
Category A: Several Navy studies have identified potential safety hazards associated with three of the ranges. These studies include the 1995 Hazard Analysis Mitigation Report, off-range ordnance sweeps in 1989/1990, and the Range Air Installation Compatible Use Zones (RAICUZ) studies in 1982, 1995, and 1997. These studies identified lands which must have limited access to ensure public safety in the event of an off-range ordnance delivery. The total acreage in Category "A" land is 40,280 acres, including 24,464 acres currently closed to the public due to the presence of off-range ordnance. Specifically, the land that will be managed as Category "A" includes: 640 acres east of B-16, 33,400 acres primarily south of B-17, and 6,240 acres north and east of B-19.
Category B: The remainder of the withdrawal will be designated as Category "B" land. It will be managed by the Navy and will remain open to the public with the exception of fenced Electronic Warfare (EW) sites. Category "B" land will provide the necessary area to adapt and maintain realistic operational and strategic combat training scenarios. This land will be used to support integrated Combat Search and Rescue (CSAR), Close Air Support (CAS) training, visual cueing, integrated ground forces support, and the installation of Electronic Warfare and tracking systems. The Joint Tactical Combat Training System (JTCTS), which is the follow-on system to the current tracking systems used by DoN and DoAF, and was installed in 2001, provides a greatly enhanced tracking capability with significantly fewer ground sites. As the activities in these areas pose little or no risk to the public, the majority of the land will be open access under certain conditions (mining, grazing, and transit across). Land to be managed under Category "B": 9,760 acres north and southeast of B-16, 5,960 east and west of B-19, 2,765 acres at the Department of Energy Shoal Site, east of B-17, and 68,600 acres north of B-17.
As part of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) was completed on this withdrawal in April, 1998. During the public hearings and comment period, the majority of the applicable comments received dealt with existing mining claims, grazing rights, and noise.
The second withdrawal action brought before Congress in 1999 was the renewal of the Bravo 20 range. The Military Lands Withdrawal Act of 1986 (Public Laws 99-606) reserved lands for use by the Secretary of the Navy for "testing and training for aerial bombing, missile firing, tactical maneuvering, and air support; and other defense related purposes," and required a renewal of the withdrawal by 6 November 2001.
The renewal of B-20 withdrawal supported what a continuation of ongoing actions. The National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) Environmental Impact Statement process was uneventful. Public hearings on the B-20 renewal were held in July of 1998, with the comment period ending in September 1998. A total of 11 comments were received, with no significant environmental issues raised. The Final Environmental Impact Statement was positively endorsed by the Nevada State Director of the Bureau of Land Management in March 1999.
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