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Patuxent River Complex

The surrounding area has sustained considerable growth as a result of the relocation of Headquarters Naval Air Systems Command (COMNAVAIRSYSCOM) from the Washington, DC, area to southern Maryland; however, the direct operational impact of transferring this administrative headquarters to the area has been minimal. The test and evaluation mission at Patuxent River continues; the Type Command Headquarters operates as a tenant onboard the installation. The impact of the ensuing unprecedented local population growth is a different but increasingly serious issue.

NAWC Patuxent River faces at least two facets of encroachment on its operations. From an aeronautical perspective, its Special Use Airspace [SUA] and range complex is the largest such overland area on the East Coast, and has significant impacts on civil traffic flows into and out of the northeast. The FAA recently developed a list of "choke points" where ATC congestion was at its worst. The initial seven points were located in the northeast. NAWC Patuxent River was not specifically featured on this list, despite rumors that it would be so highlighted by the FAA. Population growth and demographic changes on and near the Chesapeake Bay have the potential to increasingly challenge the Navy's current activities and the installation's future capabilities. St. Mary's County, in which the installation is located, experienced a 13.5% population growth between 1990 and 2000, and is expected to grow another 16.1% by the year 2010. Adjacent Calvert County grew 45.1% during the period 1990-2000.

The geographic location of Patuxent River and the associated SUA presents an obstacle to the unconstrained flow of civilian traffic into and out of the congested Northeastern United States. The excellent and historic relationship between FAA and DoN officials has mitigated this impact in the past. In addition, the local command has made a significant investment in upgrading equipment and procedures at the Bay Watch Military Radar Unit (MRU) that supports the monitoring of activity in a portion of the airspace delegated to the command. In the recent past, the command at Patuxent River has also renegotiated Letters of Procedure (LOP) with the FAA Washington Center to facilitate the turnover and recall of airspace resources. These efforts have contributed to ease the impact of the SUA on the flow of civilian traffic while increasing flight safety within the complex.

Another factor which must be considered by senior leadership at Patuxent River is the impact upon SUA that may be realized when the FAA consolidates its approach control facilities at Baltimore International, Andrews AFB, Washington Reagan National, Richmond and Dulles International Airports into a single Metroplex facility referred to as the Potomac TRACON. The airspace structure for this facility is in the design phase and will be considered as a part of the FAA National Airspace Redesign initiative. It is essential that Navy officials be involved in the deliberations associated with airspace redesign for this facility.

The Patuxent River Complex is located in the waters adjacent to the coasts of Delaware and Maryland. Those restricted areas under the scheduling authority of Naval Air Warfare Center, Aircraft Division (NAWCAD), Patuxent River are primarily scheduled for Research, Development Test and Evaluation (RDT&E) support and are available on a space-available basis.

The complex is composed of the following warning and restricted areas:

  • Restricted Area 4002 (R-4002)
  • Restricted Area 4005 (R-4005)
  • Restricted Area 4006 (R-4006)
  • Restricted Area 4007A (R-4007A)
  • Restricted Area 4008 (R-4008)
  • Restricted Area 6609 (R-6609)
  • Warning Area 108 (W-108)

R-4002, R4005, R-4006, R-4007A and R-4008 are controlled by NAWCAD.

R-6609, W-108 is controlled by the Fleet Area Control and Surveillance Facility Virginia Capes (FACSFAC VACAPES) Naval Air Station, (NAS) Oceana.

R-4002

R-4002 is a special-use land and airspace in the Chesapeake Bay area located approximately 20 NMI southeast of the NAS Patuxent River VORTAC, Channel 123, bearing 115. R-4002 extends from the surface to FL200.

R-4002 is used primarily for aircraft RDT&E. No ordnance is authorized in this area. R-4002 is available continuously

R-4005

R-4005 is special-use airspace located over the junction of the Potomac River and Chesapeake Bay, approximately 15 NMI south of the Patuxent VORTAC, Channel 123, bearing 180. The airspace extends from the surface up to, but not including, FL250. R-4005 is used primarily for aircraft RDT&E and, to a lesser degree, antisubmarine warfare training and tactics. Non-explosive ordnance is authorized in this area. No ordnance is authorized on Sundays and holidays. R-4005 is available continuously

R-4006

R-4006 is special-use airspace located approximately 20 NMI east of the Patuxent VORTAC, Channel 123, bearing 090. The airspace extends from 3500-feet MSL up to, but not including, FL250. R-4002, R-4005, and R-6609 are within, but excluded from, R-4006. R-4006 is utilized primarily for aircraft RDT&E exercises. No ordnance is authorized in this area. R-4006 is available continuously.

R-4007A

R-4007A is special-use airspace located over Naval Air Warfare Station (NAWS) Patuxent River. The R-4007A airspace extends from the surface up to 5000-feet MSL. R-4007A is used for aircraft RDT&E exercises and test pilot training. No ordnance is authorized in this area. R-4007A is available continuously.

R-4008

R-4008 is special-use airspace located approximately 20 NMI east of the Patuxent River VORTAC, Channel 123, bearing 090. In the Bloodsworth Island area, R-4008 overlies R-4002 and a major portion of R-4005 and R-4006. The airspace extends from FL250 to FL850. R-4008 is used primarily for aircraft RDT&E exercises. No ordnance is authorized in this area. R-4008 is available continuously

Tangier Island Range (R-6609)

R-6609 is an unattended/non-instrumented range located in Chesapeake Bay approximately 27 NMI south-southeast of the NAS Patuxent River VORTAC, Channel 123. R-6609 extends from the surface up to FL200. Air-to-ground exercises, including loft delivery, using MK 76 or MK 106 practice bombs, water/sand-filled bombs, practice bombs, and 2.75-inch FFARs with inert heads are authorized. Strafing is not authorized. The target consists of a 415-foot by 65-foot sunken cargo ship. R-6609 is available continuously.

Warning Area W-108 (W-108)

W-108 is special-use airspace over the Patuxent River OPAREA-Areas 1-7, and is located approximately 70 NMI east of the NAS Patuxent River VORTAC Channel 123, bearing 090. W-108 is divided into three subareas. W-108A/B extend from the surface up to unlimited altitude, and W-108C extends from the surface to FL230. W-108 is used primarily by NAWCAD and Fleet units based at NAS Patuxent River for test and evaluation flights.



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