Warren Grove Gunnery Range
With its' beginnings as a World War II weapons research location, Warren Grove Range has been part of the New Jersey Air National Guard since the early 1960's. Detachment 1, 108th Air Refueling Wing, based at McGuire AFB, NJ, manages the range.
The mission of the range is to provide a quality combat training environment for all military air and ground combat forces.
Annually, approximately 3000 sorties from fighter and helicopter users throughout the Northeastern United States practice weapons delivery day and night at Warren Grove Range. A minimum of three joint exercises involving air and ground troops occur every year. Regularly forward air controllers, laser spotting teams, Navy SEALS, Army Special Forces, Navy Weather and Medical teams, as well as Federal Aviation Administration research and development testing, New Jersey Forest Fire Service training, local police defensive driving training and Boy Scouts visits, round out an active training and community service year.
At the same time, a vigorous environmental care program is executed. Reforestation, university and governmental research, and responsible daily environmental management have made Warren Grove Range the subject of scholarly periodical articles, a Pinelands Agreement for range management, and a primary focus in a National Guard Bureau Natural Resources Protection public affairs video. During 1997, Warren Grove had over 23,000 Pineland specific trees planted on the range, and in 1998, 10,000.
Crowning this activity, Warren Grove hosts 4000 visitors a year to watch the unfolding of the Air Guard story in live, responsible aviation operations at the Range.
During 1997, over 2,600 fighters and helicopters bombed, strafed and shot rockets at Warren Grove. Aircraft from Air National Guard, Army National Guard, Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps units flew day and night missions including night vision goggle training under a variety of weather conditions without a single operational mishap. The range also supported two local police agencies as a training location for police driver emergency training. As well, the range supported FAA flight testing and FBI technician explosives training.
During 1998, 2,621 fighters, helicopters and tactical aircraft bombed, strafed, fired rockets, and air dropped training cargo at Warren Grove. This represented the third consecutive year of increased flight activity despite regular user deployments to Southeast Asia and Europe.
Four major exercises employed ground troops operating in conjunction with air operations. Two of these exercises represent the seventh straight year of Joint Operation exercises involving Army and Air National Guard and reserves of all four services at Warren Grove Range. These users executed major portions of their training in each of the Joint Defender exercises at he range.
Operations included Navy SEALS, Army Special Forces, Marine, and Air Force forward air controllers, day and night flights, use of night vision devices, lasers, and flares. Warren Grove also hosted the 177th Fighter Wing as it initiated F-16 air-to-ground weapons delivery training. In excess of 18,000 weapons deliveries and troop movements occurred at the Warren Grove Range.
There have been other incidents involving aircraft training at the range. In 2002, a New Jersey Air National Guard F-16 crashed after the pilot lost control during maneuvers. Errant practice bombs sparked a forest fire that burned 11,000 acres of pinelands in 2002. Another fire burned 1,600 acres in 1999. And in 1992, a Pennsylvania Air Guard A-10 crash landed near the range.
On 03 November 2004 an 113th Fighter Wing of the District of Columbia Air National Guard fighter jet fired eight high-powered cannon rounds through the roof of an Ocean County elementary school. The pilot of the single-seat F-16 was preparing for target practice at the nearby Warren Grove Gunnery Range when the aircraft's 20mm M61-A1 Vulcan cannon accidentally discharged, firing 25 rounds in rapid succession.
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