Naval Air Station (NAS) Lemoore
With the transfer of NAS Miramar to the US Marine Corps, NAS Lemoore now hosts the Navy's entire west coast fighter/attack capability. NAS Lemoore was built "from the ground up" as a Master Jet Base, and has several operational advantages, and relatively few constraints, as a result.
NAS Lemoore is the Navy's newest and largest master jet air station. The Pacific Strike Fighter Wing with its supporting facilities are home ported here. The primary aircraft based at NAS Lemoore is the F/A-18 Hornet Strike Fighter. In November, 1999, NAS Lemoore received its first F/A-18 E/F Super Hornets, which will eventually replace the F-14 Tomcat in fleet service as an air superiority fighter as well as assume, in a different configuration, the role of older F/A-18 Strike Fighters. Currently, there are a total of 175 Hornets and Super Hornets home-based at NAS Lemoore operating from two Fleet Replacement [training] Squadrons and ten Fleet [operational] Squadrons. In addition to the Hornet and Super Hornet population, NAS Lemoore also operates three UH-1N Search and Rescue Helicopters and hosts the UC-12B logistics aircraft.
The station encompasses almost 30,000 acres, of which 18.784 are owned outright by the Navy, and 11,020 more are used under air easement contract. The farmers owning or renting the land may raise crops in areas under the air easement but can only do so with the provision that no structure more than 25 feet in height - or any permanent living quarters - be built there. The operations and runway areas are located 7 miles from the administrative and housing areas of the base. Considering all population working, living or eligible for service on the base, NAS Lemoore is the fourth largest city in Kings County.
The "Green Belt" is an area three miles wide adjacent to and extending completely around the Station. It was established by the Kings and Fresno Counties Planning Commissions to control all urban development in order to prevent future problems incident to jet aircraft noise and population build-up adjacent to the station. The U.S. Navy presently outleases 12,737 acres, resulting in revenues to the U.S. Government totaling over $1.3 million dollars a year and in land improvements valued at over $1 million dollars per year.
Located in a rich agricultural area, NAS Lemoore offers sailors, Marines and civilians a small hometown atmosphere of rural America. Yet surrounding Lemoore are California's playgrounds - Los Angeles, San Francisco, the Sierra Mountains and the Pacific Ocean. NAS Lemoore is located in California's San Joaquin Valley, primarily in Kings County, 40 miles south of Fresno, 14 miles west of Hanford, and 7 miles west of Lemoore on State Highway 198. Fresno is a city of approximately 421,000 people while Hanford, the seat of Kings County and the location of most of the local government agencies, is approximately 42,000 people in size and growing rapidly. Lemoore's population is half of Hanford's, at 18,361.
Commissioned in 1961, NAS Lemoore is the newest air station in the Navy. Two offset parallel runways were laid out 4,600 feet apart. Aircraft parking and maintenance hangars are aligned between the 13,500 foot runways. Separated from the hangars by an underpass beneath taxiway A, the remainder of the air operations area is located directly southeast.
In July, 1998, NAS Lemoore was selected as the West Coast site for the Navy's newest strike-fighter aircraft, the F/A-18E/F Super Hornet. This action brings approximately 92 additional aircraft, 1,850 additional active duty personnel and 3,000 family members to NAS Lemoore and several associated facility additions or improvements.
The Navy will bring four new fleet squadrons to Naval Air Station Lemoore over the period 2001-2004. Additional military staffing will be required at Aircraft Intermediate Maintenance Detachment, Strike Fighter Weapons School Pacific, and Naval Air Maintenance Training Group to support this effort.
There are over 40 tenants onboard NAS Lemoore. The major ones include: Commander, Strike Fighter Wing Pacific Fleet; Carrier Air Wings 2, 9, 11, 14; Strike Fighter Weapons School, Pacific; Strike Fighter Squadrons 22, 25, 94, 97, 113, 115, 122, 125, 137, 146, 147, and 151; Fleet Aviation Specialized Operational Training Group, Pacific Fleet ; Marine Aviation Training Support Group; Naval Air Technical Services Facility Detachment; Naval Aviation Engineering Service Unit; Naval Air Maintenance Training Group; Naval Hospital and Branch Dental Clinic; Naval Training Systems Center; Trainer Systems Support Activity and Naval Air Reserve Center and Aircraft Intermediate Maintenance Detachment.
Assigned to and maintained by the Air Operations Maintenance Division at Naval Air Station Lemoore are three Bell Textron HH-1N helicopters to provide primary search and rescue for military aircraft stationed at NAS Lemoore. Also used as an asset for both personnel transport and medevac is the station's UC-12B aircraft maintained by AGES Aerospace Services Incorporated. Operational support extends to approximately a 100 mile radius from NAS Lemoore west to the coast of Monterey and east to Mt. Whitney (at an elevation of 14,495 feet). In conjunction with the National Search and Rescue Plan, an average of 32 rescue and medevac missions are flown each year. NAS Lemoore SAR has also assisted other search and rescue agencies, local sheriffs and fire departments. Training sorties of various types are conducted daily to the Sierra Nevada Mountains to the east or the Santa Maria Range to the west, offering extensive training to both pilots and aircrew in search and rescue techniques. The superior performance of the team was recently commended with the receipt of the 1996 Chief of Naval Operation's SAR Excellence Award for the most outstanding SAR unit.
Lemoore is located in roughly the geograhical center of California. It has an elevation of 225 feet and receives about 9 inches of rain per year. It is equal distance between Sacramento, San Francisco, and Los Angeles. In the summer months, Lemoore is hot and dry with cloudless skies. The temperature often rises above 100 degrees; however, humidity usually stays a low 25 percent. Fog starts to roll in during November through the winter months and usually burns off by the afternoon to yield sunny skies. Beaches are within a 2-hour's drive, and mountain skiing is less than a 3-hour's drive.
The Air Station is located on Highway 198, nineteen miles east of Interstate 5 or thirty miles west of Highway 99. Both highways provide easy access to the Air Station. If you drive, the following routes are suggested - VIA Bakersfield take state route 99 north to Visalia, then west on state route 198 to NAS Lemoore. VIA San Francisco or Sacramento take Interstate 5 south to state route 198, then east to NAS Lemoore. The Fresno Air Terminal is located 40 miles north of the Air Station. There is no bus service available to the Air Station. The base is a one-hour drive south from Fresno.
In accordance with the legislative requirements of the Base Closure and Realignment Act of 1990 (Public Law 101-510), as implemented by the 1993 Defense Base Closure and Realignment process (BRAC-93), the Navy was directed to relocate mission and operations from NAS Miramar to NAS Lemoore, California. The majority of naval training at NAS Miramar were relocated to NAS Lemoore. The realignment relocated 56 F-14 and 16 E-2 aircraft from NAS Miramar to NAS Lemoore, resulting in an increase of 72 aircraft at NAS Lemoore.
The number of permanent-party personnel necessary to support, service, and maintain new aircraft and flight operations and apprentice school training increased by approximately 3,990 and the number of civilian personnel increased by 484 over the period from 1995 through 1998. The number of school age students in grades kindergarten through 12 increased by approximately 2,300 by 1998. About 98 military construction (MILCON) projects were required to accommodate the realignment at NAS Lemoore. The projects include upgrades of existing facilities, construction of new facilities to support new aircraft operations and maintenance functions, and new housing and temporary quarters for the increased number of students and permanent-party personnel. Approximately 1,936 of the personnel relocating to NAS Lemoore live off-station and reside primarily in the nearby Lemoore and Hanford communities.
In addition to the construction and renovation projects, future establishment of a Lemoore Military Operations Area (MOA) and two Air Traffic Control Assigned Spaces (ATCAAs) were addressed. The Lemoore MOA extended approximately 23 miles northwest of NAS Lemoore and 37 miles southeast to include approximately 2,055 square miles of airspace. The ATCAAs were implemented within the geographic boundaries of the MOA. The Lemoore MOA and the ATCAAs designate airspace for military training activities. The Navy will applied to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) for formal designation of the MOA and ATCAAs.
The Defense Base Closure and Realignment Act waived certain aspects of NEPA such that the environmental analysis need not consider the noaction alternative (no realignment), nor other realignment locations. Alternative means of accommodating the mandated BRAC-93 realignment at NAS Lemoore that were considered, but eliminated from detailed analysis, include retrofitting and remodeling existing structures and the use of rental units outside NAS Lemoore. Sites considered at NAS Lemoore for the new facilities/renovations avoided environmentally sensitive areas, and were selected based on the following functional considerations: adequacy of existing structures for the proposed uses, availability of utilities, and proximity of the structure/site to existing and related facilities, such as hangars, warehouses, classrooms, administrative offices, housing and recreational facilities.
The action increased total flight operations at NAS Lemoore, but did not produce a significant change in ambient noise levels onstation or in surrounding communities. Appropriate noise level reduction measures were incorporated into Bachelor Enlisted Quarter (BEQ) and Bachelor Officer Quarter (BOQ) facilities to ensure appropriate interior noise levels. Construction activity near residential areas was limited to normal daytime working hours to minimize temporary construction noise impacts. The BRAC action resulted in significant mitigatable air quality impacts related to construction activities, added stationary emission sources, added aircraft flight operations, added motor vehicle traffic, and added area sources (building and landscape maintenance, space heating, etc.). No new violations of national ambient air quality standards were anticipated as a result of the BRAC action. Mitigation measures were implemented to reduce the potential for localized dust conditions at construction sites to ensure compliance with the San Joaquin Valley Unified Air Pollution Control District (SJVUAPCD) rules and regulations, and to implement SJVUAPCD mobile and area source emission reduction programs. Added stationary source emissions were offset through existing SJVUAPCD permit procedures.
The action at NAS Lemoore did not significantly impact any Department of Defense Installation Restoration Program (IRP) sites. Construction projects located adjacent to IRP sites were designed to avoid the sites. The action did not violate any conditions of the NAS Lemoore Waste Management Plan or the Spill Prevention Control and Countermeasures Plan. There was no significant impacts to hazardous materials, as long as all applicable laws, regulations, and standard operating procedures are followed. Pursuant to Executive Order 12898, Environmental Justice, potential environmental and economic impacts on minority and low-income persons and communities were assessed. These persons and communities were not be disproportionately adversely affected by the NAS Lemoore BRAC action. The increase in population from the action did not result in significant impacts to housing, facilities, or services on-base or in the region. The additional economic activity from the action resulted in a net positive effect on the local economy. The action did not significantly impact existing land uses at NAS Lemoore. The additional vehicular traffic generated by the action resulted in significant mitigable impacts to transportation, traffic, and circulation. The Navy coordinated selection of mitigation for six intersections on or near NAS Lemoore which appeared to warrant the installation of signals or an equivalent improvement to accommodate the increase in traffic resulting from the action.
The BRAC action increased the number of school-aged children by an estimated 2,300 students. Between 975 to 1,240 of these students who are of elementary school age (K-8) were expected to attend on-station schools. The increase in students exceeded the physical capacity of the two on-station elementary schools as well as the maximum allowable student/teacher ratio. The physical capacity of Lemoore Union High School was also be exceeded. Therefore, the BRAC action resulted in a significant, but mitigable, impact to the school system. Identified mitigation measures included construction of a new on-base school, expanding the physical capacity of existing schools by leased or leased-to-own portable classroom units, and/or by constructing additional classrooms. The Navy recognized the significance of these impacts and identified feasible mitigation to assure a high quality education environment for dependent children.
The existing utility infrastructure was upgraded as part of the BRAC action to accommodate the demands of the BRAC relocation. Therefore, utilities at NAS Lemoore have adequate capacity to serve the additional personnel. NAS Lemoore personnel residing offstation did not have a significant impact on the regional water supply. Police and fire protection services are adequate to serve the needs of the new facilities, as are solid waste disposal facilities. No significant impacts resulted to recreational facilities, either onor off-station.
The action resulted in no significant impacts to plant or animal species listed as threatened or endangered by either federal or state agencies, or to sensitive habitats. No impact resulted to cultural resources or properties of traditional cultural significance. No impacts resulted to visual resources due to the action.
The relocation of fighter/attack assets, particularly F/A-18 squadrons from NAS Miramar to NAS Lemoore imposed additional airspace requirements at and near NAS Lemoore. The primary airspace resource used by Lemoore fighter missions is the R-2508 complex. The Foothills MOA is used to marshal aircraft prior to entering R-2508. In addition, approximately ten sorties per day launch from Lemoore and proceed to the Fallon complex. The proximity and volume of airspace within the R-2508 complex is convenient and operationally suitable.
The growth in activity in the area adjacent to the complex has exacerbated a long-standing dispute between the managers of the R-2508 complex and the National Park Service regarding overflights of the Kings Canyon area. Recent agreements to limit overflights of the area in order to reduce perceived intrusions on the park were negotiated with the concurrence of senior leadership of both the local test communities and the primary operational user (COMNAVAIRPAC). Operational impacts are thus far not determined; perceptions of the agreement vary and appear to reflect the source. Some users note that the airspace can be used below the agreed FL180 "standard mission" floor by simply requesting it, while anecdotal comments attributed to groups and individuals opposed to military use of the airspace indicate that they believe they have effectively denied use of the area to the military.
NAS Lemoore has long considered development of a MOA directly over the field. While this development has the potential to offer relief to constrained airspace, and especially to offer usable space for "low-end" activities (i.e. basic flight maneuvers, functional check flights), three factors will need to receive serious consideration prior to proceeding with any serious planning. The MOA must be evaluated for its potential impact on NAS Lemoore itself. Lemoore is relatively unconstrained by local operational ATC restrictions. Development and use of an overhead MOA may impose limitations on the airfield that outweigh the MOA's operational utility. The surrounding civil communities, while not immediately adjacent, are affected by ATC and airspace issues at Lemoore. Adjacent FAA-managed ATC facilities would have to be offered the opportunity to participate and have their concerns addressed in any development process, while the environmental effects of a new MOA, unless floored at an extraordinarily high level, would certainly invite a spirited public debate. An overhead MOA at Lemoore may offer only limited vertical airspace. Traffic bound to and from the Los Angeles area has been identified as a limitation to establishment of SUA/ATCAA at higher than low-sector (FL 230) altitudes. The area's floor could be environmentally constrained (see above); in addition, discussions with airspace managers indicated that an existing tall transmitting tower could be a factor in the availability of low altitude airspace.
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