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Jefferson Range / Jefferson Proving Ground (JPG)

Jefferson Range is located in the northern portions of Big Oaks National Wildlife Refuge (BONWR), or former Jefferson Proving Grounds, in southeastern Indiana, just north of the Ohio River Community of Madison. The range is located on 1033 acres in the northern third of the old Jefferson Proving Grounds in Ripley County, Indiana. The main range buildings are located in the north-eastern corner of the complex.

The range has:

  • 14- WISS Scored Targets
  • 3- Air Scored Targets
  • 3- Strafe Targets (DH-3 Scored) (2- 20MM & 1 30MM)
  • 1- 2.75" Rocket Target

The WISS is designed to provide support to the fleet in the training of pilot and aircrews at Tactical Training Ranges (TTRs) in the delivery of airborne ordnance. The WISS is an electro-optical instrumented system designed to accurately measure the impact location of air delivered ordnance (usually bombs, rockets, or mines) with respect to the target center. The targets vary from a latitude/longitude position on water to fixed bull's-eye, buoys, barges, and moving land targets (MLTs).

The Large Scale Target Sensor System (LSTSS) is an aircrew training system that detects laser designator radiation on targets. The LSTSS consists of multiple devices and Device Controller Assemblies installed throughout the target area and linked by a radio or fiber optic channel Local Area Network (LAN).

The Jefferson Range was established in 1998 a Memoranda of Understanding between the U.S. Department of Army and the Indiana Air National Guard. In exchange for continued use of air-to-ground training area, the Air National Guard provides assistance to the Army in the operations and maintenance of the 51,000-acre impact area. This MOU became effective in October 1997 and was superceded by the MOU of May 2000 between the Army, Air Force and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. In 2000 the Big Oaks National Wildlife Refuge was created as an overlay refuge.

Under the provisions of the MOU, the Army will retain overall control, management, and security of the range and serve as the single point of contact with all regulatory agencies. The Army will permit the ANG to use those ranges and facilities currently in use, and provide the INANG priority in the use of the facilities it maintains, including Old Timbers Lodge. The ANG will fund INANG operations, update permits and licenses, and respond to environmental compliance issues. The INANG will maintain all roads on the interior of the firing range, provide grass maintenance, and maintain cultural resources.

Range personal are responsible for the maintenance of Old Timbers Lodge, the Oakdale School and four stone arch bridges. All are on the National Historic Register in Washington D.C. Seasonal maintenance include mowing, snow removal, bug and water proofing and cleaning.

Jefferson Range has the responsibility of maintaining several miles of road. It includes both paved and gravel roads with barricades and gates to control access. Jefferson Range has approximately 17 miles of paved roads and 26 miles of gravel roads plus 19 barricades and 22 gates. Jefferson Range has over 50 miles of fence and gates to maintain. Some of the fence is in remote locations only accessible by ATV. The fence has to be inspected weekly and all holes have to be repaired within 78 hours of discovery. The first inspection turned up 48 holes!! Most of the gates are barricaded to prevent access. At this time 6 gates are accessible with a padlock.

Jefferson Proving Ground (JPG)

The basic mission of Jefferson Proving Ground (JPG) was to test and evaluate all types of munitions. In 1988, the Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) Commission recommended that the installation be closed and the mission transferred to Yuma Proving Ground (YPG), Arizona. 1991 marked the peak of testing activity during the Persian Gulf War. The last round was fired on 30 September 1994, ending the testing mission. JPG closed on 30 September 1995.

Jefferson Proving Ground is situated on over 55,000 acres in Jefferson, Ripley and Jennings Counties, Indiana. The installation is rectangular with the approximate dimensions of 18 miles in the north-south direction by about 5 1/2 miles in the east-west direction. The main gate of the installation is approximately seven miles north of Madison, Indiana, and 56 miles northeast of Louisville, Kentucky. The nearest major airport to the site is in Louisville.

DOD use of the site began in late 1940 with procurement of the land. Prior to DOD ownership, the land comprising the proving ground was used predominately for small family farms and forest. Several small communities were condemned and about 500 families were relocated.

JPG was responsible for performing numerous tests on ordnance, such as: ballistics acceptance tests, restructures development tests, product improvement tests, acceptance tests, surveillance tests, proof acceptance tests, various environment effects tests, etc. Tests were conducted on all components of ammunition that were required to make up a complete round. These included the cartridge case, primer, propelling charge, projectile or bullet, the bursting charge or explosive, and the fuze. Each of these items were tested separately and then assembled in order to test the complete round.

In general, JPG was set up with a "firing line,, going east-west across the entire reservation near the southern end of the facility. Constructed along this firing line were permanent positions for firing ordnance directly and indirectly north. The northern area is the "impact" area and is composed of specifically designated impact fields or ranges. The cantonment area with the support buildings was south of the firing line. This is only the general layout and may lead to the mistaken assumptions that all firing was from the firing line north and that south of the firing line was not impacted by ordnance. Firing positions, ranges and test areas were established south of the firing line and as well as north in the impact area. At these other firing positions or testing areas, examples of any different compass bearing/could be found as the direction of fire. The entire facility was used for testing ordnance.

Jefferson Proving Ground conducted production acceptance testing of DU munitions against soft targets. Firing at soft targets reduced the potential for significant environmental contamination because the DU did not ignite and burn as it did when fired at hard targets or armor plates. Tests using DU at Jefferson Proving Ground were conducted to determine the accuracy of 105mm and 120mm tank ammunition. DU tests began at JPG in March 1984. The last DU round was fired on 2 May 1994. The installation administered the DU test program under the auspices of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) regulations and maintained License No. SUB 1435. This license also covered the storage of DU in magazines 610, 611 and Ml (temporary magazine). The DU penetrators were fired north from the firing line into the depleted uranium impact area (500 Center). This three squaremile area was impacted by approximately 100,000 kilograms (kgs) of the penetrators. A semi-annual recovery program retrieved approximately 26,000 kgs, leaving nearly 74,000 kgs unrecovered.

The Army transfered its DU test mission to YPG. JPG did not install catch boxes, because base closure procedures prevent the construction of new facilities. Before firing DU on the range, JPG conducted an environmental baseline study as part of an environmental assessment. JPG has also taken samples from the test range twice yearly since 1983. As a result of the EA, JPG filed a FNSI for the DU activities. To safely remediate the DU-contaminated areas of the JPG ranges, the Army will have to strip several feet of soil to ensure the simultaneous removal of UXO. This action will facilitate soil erosion, thereby increasing the potential for DU-contaminated soil to migrate to previously clean areas. Range remediation must consider the safety issue of UXO on the range from unrelated testing of high explosive rounds.

Both chemical warfare training and chemical ordnance component testing was accomplished at JPG. From the years 19411945, the 615th Army Air Force Base Unit conducted chemical warfare training at the site. This training was similar to chemical warfare training conducted at all army airfields during the Second World War.


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Page last modified: 05-07-2011 02:51:18 ZULU