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Pacific Northwest Operating Area [PACNORWEST OPAREA]

NAS Whidbey Island is assigned responsibility to manage offshore and inland operating areas dedicated for military use, through coordination, scheduling and control, if applicable, of surface and air platforms operating to/from these areas. This manual contains a comprehensive listing of all PACNORWEST operating areas and Special Use Airspace. All military training, to the maximum extent possible, should normally be conducted within the established OPAREAS.

The Whidbey Island Complex is located in the states of Washington and Oregon and their adjacent off-shore coastal waters. Radar and telemetry support may be available for some or all of the ranges/areas listed refer to the instruction cited for a complete description of the support available. The Northwest Range System underwater tracking ranges are located in this area.

The complex is composed of the areas and ranges listed below:

  • Restricted Area 5701/5706 (R-5701/R-5706) Boardman MOA/ATCAA
  • Washington Coastal Warning Area (W-237)
  • Okanogan A/B/C MOA/ATCAA
  • Roosevelt MOA/ATCAA
  • Olympic MOA/ATCAA
  • Darrington Operating Area
  • Warning Area 570 (W-570)
  • Warning Area 93 (W-93)
  • Pacific Northwest Ocean Surface/Subsurface Operating Area

The following areas are of great interest due to their frequent use as operational training and exercise areas.
 

  1. W-237, W-570, W-93.
    Located off the coast of Washington, and Oregon, these Warning Areas are used routinely by aviation, surface and subsurface assets. The W-237 complex includes Warning Areas W-237A through W-237J. They are off-shore areas used for joint air/surface operations such as missile firings, air-to-surface bombing, air-to-air firing, combat tactics, intercepts, aerial refueling, instrument training, aerobatics, and formation flight training. The W-237 complex is also a designated ASW range for coordinated ASW operations, sonobouys, practice depth charges and smoke markers. See Illustration (2).
     
  2. Admiralty Bay Mining Range (R-6701).
    Located off the southwest coast of Whidbey Island, south of OLF Coupeville at Admiralty Bay, this is frequently used by aviation communities for bombing and torpedo practice.
     
  3. Nanoose Range (CYD-108).
    Located some 20 NM southeast of Comox, BC, Canada (80 NM northwest of NAS Whidbey) in the Strait of Georgia, Nanoose Range is utilized by all aviation warfare communities.
     
  4. Boardman MOA/R-5706.
    Commonly referred to as “the Boardman Bombing Range”, is located 31 NM east of Arlington, OR on the southern bank of the Columbia River.
     
  5. Darrington MOA.
    Located to the east of NAS Whidbey Island, this irregularly shaped MOA is bounded by the US -Canadian border to the north, 48 degrees north latitude to the south, 120 degrees west longitude to the east, and 122 degrees west longitude to the west. This area is used for Functional Flight checks.
     
  6. Okanogan MOA.
    Located in north-central Washington, this irregularly shaped MOA is bounded by the US -Canadian border to the north, 48 degrees north latitude to the south, 119 degrees west longitude to the east, and 121 degrees west longitude to the west. This area is used for in-flight air refueling training, flight familiarization, and aircraft combat maneuvering.
     
  7. Roosevelt MOA.
    Located in the northeastern Washington, this irregularly shaped MOA is bounded by the US -Canadian border to the north, 48 degrees north latitude to the south, 117 degrees west longitude to the east, and 119 degrees west longitude to the west. This area is used for in-flight air refueling training, flight familiarization, and aircraft combat maneuvering.
     
  8. Olympic MOA.
    Located on the Olympic Peninsula, this MOA extends from the    Strait of Juan de Fuca south to Hoquiam, and from the Olympic National Park west to the coastline. This area is used for in-flight air refueling training, flight familiarization, and aircraft combat maneuvering.


Millitary Operating Areas common for squadrans stationed at NAS Whidbey Island. 

Military Training Routes

Numerous structured flight training routes are presently in use by Whidbey Island based squadrons.  They include low and high level, IFR and VFR routes from NAS Whidbey to Eastern Washington, coastal OPAREA(s), Oregon, Idaho, Nevada, and British Columbia.  Several of the routes require aggressive, demanding flying through mountainous terrain.  The forecaster must become intimately familiar with these routes.

The Okanogan, Roosevelt Boardman, and Olympic MOAs are designated for the purpose of conducting special military training operations, such as combat tactics, aerobatics, intercepts, instrument training, aerial refueling, and formation flight training. Nonparticipating IFR traffic will be provided separation from operations within the MOAs by Seattle ARTCC. Nonparticipating VFR traffic is urged to remain clear of the area. Should it become necessary to transit Okanagon or Roosevelt when training activities are being conducted, exercise extreme caution.

It is Commanding Officer, Naval Air Station, Whidbey Island policy to conduct required training and operational flights with a minimum impact on surrounding communities. All aircrew using Ault Field, OLF Coupeville, Admiralty Bay Mining Range, Boardman Target and the myriad of northwest instrument and visual military training routes (IR/VR), are responsible for the safe conduct of their mission while complying with published course rules, noise abatement procedures, and good common sense. Each aircrew must be familiar with the noise profiles of their aircraft and must be committed to minimizing noise impacts without compromising operational and safety requirements.

This region has seen a significant reduction in naval aviation activity due to the retirement of the venerable A-6 Intruder, which for many years dominated naval flight activity at NAS Whidbey Island, WA. NAS Whidbey Island continues to operate, efficiently supporting the Navy's patrol and reconnaissance (P-3C and EP-3C) communities (under CPRW-10) and the joint electronic warfare mission conducted in the EA-6B by Commander Electronic Attack Wing US Pacific Fleet. However, while most of the Special Use Airspace previously used by the A-6 community still exists, neither of these aircraft imposes the level of airspace impacts that were generated when Whidbey supported its full complement of Intruder squadrons.

The dominant airport in the region continues to be the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SEATAC). Air traffic to SEATAC has continued to increase at a moderate rate, and a long-debated third runway is now under construction. This 8,500 foot runway was begun in 1999, and will be commissioned in 2006. The runway will increase overall airport capacity by accepting VFR arrivals, releasing one of the existing parallel runways to be used for departures, but this construction will not address the IFR arrival rate limitations and frequent delays inherent in SEATAC's small dimensions and narrowly-spaced runways. The region's second major airport, Portland (Oregon) International, is now experiencing a decline in activity, following a period of increasing traffic as Delta Airlines built its west coast international hub at Portland. Delta has recently reduced its activity at Portland, with a commensurate reduction in the airport's overall traffic levels of nearly 20% between 1999 and 2000.

The primary using installation of Pacific Northwest airspace is NAS Whidbey Island, WA. Other users include NAS Fallon, in very limited numbers.

The primary over-land DoN airspace asset in the region is the Boardman, OR bombing and gunnery range (R-5601).

Other DoN airspace in the region continues to be used by Whidbey-stationed units. In particular, Whidbey manages the Roosevelt MOA, in northern Washington, and supports USN, USAF and Canadian users there. EA-6B users assigned to Commander Electronic Attack Wing, Pacific, have access to a convenient Air Traffic Control Assigned Airspace area (ATCAA) east of the field, and are able to train against a variety of electronic threats.

Overwater operating area (OPAREA) utilization has increased, with the assignment of three carrier battle groups to the Northwest on a temporary basis. Implications for NAS Whidbey do not appear to be significant, as Whidbey-based aircraft are not a major part of the force using these areas.

Replacement of the A-6 by the P-3C significantly reduced the complexity of the airspace management task at NAS Whidbey Island. However, one issue was noted during the 1994 Blue Air visit. The P-3 is equipped with an instrument landing system (ILS) and P-3 aircrews require training in that system. Traffic concerns limited ILS availability in the southern Seattle metropolitan area, and noise concerns limited that aircraft's acceptance at Payne Field, the most convenient ILS equipped location. DoN has installed an ILS at Whidbey, and this training is now conducted locally.



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