Military


Virginia Capes Operating Area VACAPES OPAREA

The Virginia Capes Operating Area (VACAPES OPAREA / VCOA) is a surface and subsurface operating area off the Virginia and North Carolina coasts. It includes the area covered by W-386, W-387, W-72, W-50, W-108, W-110, R-6606, and the Submarine Transit Lanes. The OPAREA is used for various surface, subsurface, air-to-surface exercises.

The Virginia Capes Operating Area is managed by the Fleet Area Control and Surveillance Facility, Virginia Capes, known as FACSFAC VACAPES, is located at Virginia Beach, Virginia. As a designated air traffic control facility, it is required to provide air traffic separation consistent with the guidelines used by the FAA's controllers, and provide for the safe, efficient and expeditious flow of air traffic.

In the past, military aircraft operating over international waters off the US East Coast have utilized separate airspace. These designated warning areas have been set aside to ensure that military operations do not conflict with movement of other air traffic moving along airways outside the warning area. This arrangement has proven to be effective in maintaining separation between military and civilian aircraft. But, it has also been an inefficient use of the airspace. Under normal procedures, the schedule for military use of a warning area determined if and when civilian air traffic may pass through that warning area. When military aircraft are scheduled to use a warning area, civilian aircraft must remain clear--which means they must be routed around the warning area by air traffic controllers. Super- gradient winds in the VACAPES Operating Area are the primary cause of the "North Wall Effect" - a condition which creates significantly higher winds and seas in the vicinity of the Gulf Stream. Super-gradient winds of 20 knots or more are probable during the fall, winter and spring months.

The air carrier industry is operating at a level that exceeds capacity at selected high-volume airports. Air carrier industry leaders have soundly rejected suggestions that the carriers reduce flight numbers to match capacity. FAA technological programs to add incremental capacity may offer only marginal long term benefit, and have proven very difficult to implement in a timely manner, or on a large scale. Despite recent comments by government leaders, development of new airports or runways, particularly at or near the delay-impacted airports of the northeast United States, is problematic. Therefore the FAA and civil users have sought other avenues for relief. Navy-managed offshore airspace has been identified as a resource that would address some delay problems. However, initial air carrier suggestions for improved civil access appeared to impose too great an operational impact on the military, particularly on DoN, to be pursued.

Fleet Area Control and Surveillance Facility, Virginia Capes (FACSFAC VACAPES) was commissioned on October 1, 1977. The facility monitors aircraft movements and coordinates assignments and use of the offshore warning areas for air, surface, and subsurface units. The areas extend from just south of Nantucket Island, MA to Charleston, SC, and eastward more than 200 nautical miles into the Atlantic Ocean. Radar surveillance and radio communications provide air traffic control separation between high performance military aircraft and a high volume of commercial air traffic transiting numerous jet routes off the East Coast.

Upon establishment of FACSFAC VACAPES, the basic mission assumed was one that had been previously performed by the Virginia Capes Operating Area Coordinator (VCOAC) for Commander Fleet Air Norfolk. The VCOAC was the central scheduling point for all Atlantic Fleet aircraft services, the use of VACAPES OPAREAS, and joint use of airspace by DOD, FAA, and NASA.

Since Commissioning, the facility's mission has steadily increased in scope and complexity. Additional functions performed by FACSFAC VACAPES include: Oceanic Airspace Coordination, scheduling and deconfliction of 17 Military Training Routes (MTR), monitoring and assisting in search and rescue operations; acting as naval liaison for the Norfolk area with the Federal Aviation Administration; providing range safety surveillance and control for missile firing exercises in assigned operational area; and supplying air intercept control services for Fleet Replacement Training Squadrons.

The Virginia Capes (VACAPES) Complex is located in the states of Maryland, Virginia, and North Carolina and their adjacent coastal waters. The Aegis Combat Systems Center (ACSC) is also located in this area and may be available to function as an AEGIS exercise unit in the VACAPES area.

The complex consists of the following targets and instrumented areas:

  • Harvey Point Range (R-5301)
  • Palmetto Point Range (R-5302)
  • Stumpy Point Range (R-5313)
  • Navy Dare County Range (R-5314)
  • Dam Neck Range (R-6606)
  • Oceana Tactical Aircrew Training System (TACTS) Range
  • Warning Area 72 (W-72)
  • Warning Area 50 (W-50)
  • Large Area Tracking Range (LATR)
  • Shipboard Electronic Systems Evaluation Facility (SESEF)

The following warning areas and Operating Area (OPAREA) are associated with this complex:

  • Warning Area 110 (W-110)
  • Warning Area 386 (W-386)
  • Warning Area 387 (W-387)
  • Hatteras ATCAA
  • Pamlico MOA
  • VACAPES OPAREA

The Oceana Tactical Aircrew Combat Training System (TACTS) Range is located in W-72 airspace centered approximately 60 NMI from the NAS Oceana TACAN, Channel 113. The Oceana TACTS airspace extends from 5000-feet to unlimited altitude. The TACTS coverage includes most of the Dare County Range in R-5314 and the Stumpy Point Range in R-5313. The Oceana TACTS provides aircrew training and performance evaluation in Air Combat Maneuvering (ACM), air tactics, and No Drop Weapons Scoring (NDWS).

There are nine no-drop targets associated with the Oceana TACTS in Dare County. Adversary aircraft are arranged by the user. The Oceana TACTS is available Monday through Friday from 0730 to sunset or 1800, whichever is earlier.

The Tactical Aircrew Combat Training System program accomplished several significant advances in 1998. Production of the AN/ASM-694 (V)2 Pod Test Set manufactured by Raytheon Technical Services was completed with the Navy's final units being delivered in December. The test set incorporates state-of-the-art technology and provides the added capability of testing additional airborne hardware such as the Countermeasures Employment Detection Subsystem (CEDS) and the tactical interface module. CEDS successfully completed government acceptance testing on F-14 aircraft in May and F/A-18 aircraft in June. These tests were conducted at the Naval Air Station Oceana Tactical Aircrew Combat Training System range by a NAWCAD Patuxent River test team. CEDS met all requirements for both aircraft. The advanced display and debriefing subsystem received a number of enhancements/improvements with the dissemination of advanced display and debriefing subsystems software versions 3.1 and 4.0. Tactical aircrew combat training system software version 5.1 was released, which incorporates several enhancements including a limited Advanced Medium Range Air-to-Air Missile capability.

The Large Area Tracking Range (LATR) encompasses an area roughly 500 nautical miles radius from the LATR Ground Interrogation Station (GIS) located on Bodie Island, North Carolina. This coverage extends to approximately 70,000 feet altitude. The LATR provides tracking and exercise data support for up to 124 exercise participants in the LATR area. Data and Time-Space-Position Information (TSPI) are transmitted from participants to the Command and Control Station. This information supports exercise evaluation and debrief. There are no targets specifically provided by LATR. The LATR is available continuously.

The Shipboard Electronic Systems Evaluation Facility (SESEF) is located in building 102 at Fort Story, Virginia Beach, VA. The SESEF AN/ULM-4 range is located between the 080-110 radials at 5-15 NMI from Fort Story. SESEF supports testing and analysis of shipboard communications and other electronics. No ordnance is allowed. SESEF is available on normal work days from 0700-1600, excluding holidays.

Warning Area 50 (W-50) is special-use airspace in the open ocean over VACAPES OPAREA-Area 13 and borders R-6609 to the East and is located approximately 8 NMI east of the NAS Oceana TACAN Channel 113. W-50 extends from the surface up to 5,000-feet. Air-to-surface and surface-to-surface SEPTAR exercises using inert ordnance are authorized.

Warning Area 72 (W-72) is special-use airspace in the open ocean over VACAPES OPAREA-AREAs 13-43 excluding those portions of areas underlying AR-8, AR-9, W-110 and W-387. W-72 is adjacent to the coasts of Virginia and North Carolina and is located approximately 20 NMI southeast of the NAS Oceana TACAN, Channel 113. W-72 extends from the surface to unlimited altitude, except that portion of W-72A west of 75 30'W, which extends from surface to, but not including, 2000-feet MSL and above FL600 to unlimited altitude. The Oceana TACTS Range is located in this Warning Area. Air-to-air, air-to-surface, and surface-to-surface missile, guns, cannons, and bomb exercises using conventional ordnance are authorized. ASW exercises and ACM training are also conducted in W-72. Range is available continuously.

Warning Area 110 (W-110) is special-use airspace over VACAPES OPAREA-Areas 27, 28, 33-35, 39-41, and 43, off the coast of North Carolina and is located approximately 75 NMI southeast of NAS Oceana TACAN, Channel 113. W-110 extends from the surface to FL230. W-110 is used primarily for air tactics and instrument training.

Warning Area 386 (W-386) is special-use airspace over VACAPES OPAREA-Areas 1-12 off the coast of Maryland located approximately 60 NMI east of the NAS Patuxent River VORTAC, Channel 1231. W-386 extends from the surface to unlimited altitude, except that portion of the area west of 75 30'W which is surface to, but not including, 2000-feet MSL. R-6604, located west of W-386, is part of the Wallops Flight Facility. Air-to-air, air-to-surface, surface-to-air, and surface-to-surface missile, gunnery, and rocket exercises using conventional ordnance are authorized. Antisubmarine Rocket (ASROC) exercises may be scheduled in W-386E.

Warning Area 387 (W-387) is open-ocean airspace off the coast of Virginia located approximately 75 NMI east of the NAS Oceana TACAN, Channel 113. W-387 is divided into a high area, W-387A, which extends from the surface up to, but not including, FL240, and a low area, W-387B, from FL240 to unlimited. W-387 is used primarily for air tactics and instrument training. No ordnance is authorized.

The Hatteras ATCAA is special-use airspace located over eastern NC extending from MCAS Cherry Point, NC, to north of the Albemarle Sound. The airspace extends from FL240 to FL600. The ATCAA is used for ACM, instrument training, and other military flight operations. No ordnance is authorized.

The Pamlico MOA is special-use airspace located over eastern North Carolina approximately 70 NMI northeast of the MCAS Cherry Point TACAN, Channel 75. The airspace extends from 8000-feet up to, but not including, FL180. The MOA is used for ACM, instrument training, and other military flight operations. No ordnance is authorized.



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