La Junta Electronic Scoring Site [ESS]
The La Junta Electronic Scoring Site [ESS] is located four miles north of LaJunta, Colorado at the LaJunta airport, just off Highway 194. LaJunta is 60 miles east of Pueblo, Colorado on US Highway 50
Air Combat Command converted the La Junta Tactics and Training Range Site to a contractor operation. This cost-saving measure resulted in a decrease of 66 full-time military and one civilian manpower authorizations. AHNTECH, Inc performs Electronic Combat (EC), Radar Bomb Scoring (RBS) and other training missions primarily for Air Combat Command Aircrews from around the country. This mission is accomplished through Operations and Maintenance (O&M) of the site's assigned threat simulators and related facilities and equipment. Support Base include Dyess AFB, Texas and Peterson AFB, Colorado. Primary Customers are B-1Bs from Dyess, Ellsworth and Mountain Home AFBs; B-52Hs from Barksdale AFB, RC-135s from Offutt AFB; and C-130s from Kirtland AFB.
The La Junta Airport is about 5 miles North of the City itself, in the Airport Industrial Park. The overall location is about halfway between Lamar and Pueblo, Colorado. The small town of Cheraw with it's man-made irrigation lake is easily seen from the air four miles North of the airport.
This airport was created in World War II as a training base for B-25 pilots. At the peak of it's service, approximately 100 aircraft were in use. In addition to training American pilots, a large group of Chinese pilots also trained here. The large military complex was shut down after the war ended, in 1946, and the airport was turned over to civilian control. Many of the long barracks buildings became houses and garages in La Junta. The former base hospital was moved to it's present location and is now the FBO building. A flight service station operated here for many years, but that, too, was shut down in the late 1980's and Denver took over those duties.
The La Junta Municipal Airport and FAA weather Station are located on the northern rim of the industrial park. The air facility includes two runways and 77 acres of tarmac. Numerous private and charter planes utilize the well maintained facility year-round. La Junta Municipal Airport is the largest airport in southeastern Colorado accepting general aviation aircraft with a maximum wheel load of 20,000 pounds. The main runway, east-west, is 6,851 feet long while the crosswind runway is 5,800 feet long. The main runway has pilot controlled lighting on Unicorn 123.0, PAPI's and REIL's. A non-directional beacon guidance system for non-precision approaches makes it possible to land at La Junta in conditions of low ceiling and low visibility.
La Junta Raceway, a creative conversion of a WWII airstrip, attracts enthusiasts from throughout the nation for regional and national races of the Sports Car Club of America. The rodeo grounds host the Kids Rodeo, an immensely popular local event.
A master-planned industrial park, owned by the City, is located four miles north of La Junta. The 3,500 acre park boasts a unique blend of industrial, recreational and transportation enterprises. The Industrial park also has air and highway access. The park also offers a variety of recreational resources. The centerpiece of the park is a challenging nine-hole golf course with the "toughest roughs in the world" according to Golf Traveler Magazine.
The former Pueblo Air-to-Ground Gunnery Range is located approximately 25 miles southwest of La Junta, Colorado in Otero County. The site consisted of 23,006.48 acres. The site is gently rolling grassland and is used for cattle grazing. The surrounding area is also used for grazing. There is a high potential for ground disturbing activities on the entire site in the form of well drilling and pipeline construction to provide water for cattle.
The gunnery range was one of a series of ranges used by Pueblo Army Air Base and Army Air Forces stations, such as the nearby La Junta Army Air Field. Other ranges included Pueblo PBR #1 and Pueblo PBR #2. Primarily, the gunnery range provided a location for the bomber crews from B-17, B-24, B-25, and B-29 bombers to practice air-to-ground gunnery using .50 caliber machine guns. Construction of the gunnery range began in 1942. In 1943, bomber training groups went through a three phase training program. The third phase emphasized long distance missions, tactical problems, intense precision bombing practice from all altitudes and high altitude gunnery. Because the training program specified firing from every gun position on nearly all daylight flights, the air-to-ground gunnery targets received very intensive use. By May 30, 1943, the Second Air Force planned to use its air-to-ground gunnery ranges for minimum altitude training, also known as skip-bombing training.
In March 1944, in the second phase of training for bombardiers in the Combat Crew Training School at Pueblo Army Air Base, bomber crews devoted their training to bombing, gunnery, formation navigation, crew coordination, and completing most of the AAF requirements for combat crew training. Bomber crews made bombing runs on a flight pattern using PB-7 as a target. Target PB-7 is located in the southern part of the gunnery range. Beginning July 1, 1944, Headquarters Second Air Force assigned temporary joint use of the gunnery Range to Walker AAF, Pratt AAF, Great Bend AAF, and Smoky Hill AAF, all in Kansas. At the end of July 1945, Headquarters Second Air Force assigned the use and maintenance of the gunnery range exclusively to La Junta AAF. On November 6, 1945, Headquarters Second Air Force notified the Commanding Officer of Pueblo AAB that all ranges assigned to Pueblo were no longer required for training purposes and could be declared surplus to the needs of the command.
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