PILOT ALERT! Navy Plans Large Military Operations Area at Lemoore

Navy Plans NAS Lemoore Military Operations Area between altitudes 8,000 and 27,000. The US Navy and California Air National Guard (CANG) have initiated the establishment of a new Special Use Airspace (SUA) consisting of a Military Operations Area (MOA) and Air Traffic Controlled Assigned Airspace (ATCAA) at NAS Lemoore, California. The airspace would be 30 nautical miles by 70 nautical miles and would be divided into 5 sectors. The airspace would enable Navy squadrons at NAS Lemoore and the California Air National Guard (CANG) to meet mandated Department of Defense (DOD) training objectives.

An Environmental Assessment (EA) evaluating the lateral and vertical boundaries of the proposed airspace has been underway since October 15, 2003. The EA will provide decision makers with the information they require to make a fully informed decision as spelled out under the National Environmental Policy Act, or NEPA. NEPA directs all federal agencies to examine the environmental consequences of any major federal action that may affect the quality of the human environment and provides an interdisciplinary framework to evaluate federal actions. Furthermore, NEPA opens the federal decision-making process to public involvement and scrutiny.

The EA will be a comprehensive, full-disclosure document that assesses the social, economic, and environmental effects, both positive and negative, of the proposed project and of all the alternatives under consideration. Additionally, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is a cooperating agency in performing this EA.

It is anticipated that MOA operations in sector C (the area overlying the most densely populated area of the MOA) would have a base altitude of 16,000 feet MSL to allow for air station departure/arrival procedures which are currently in effect. The EA is evaluating 5,000 to 35,000 feet as the vertical limits of the MOA and ATCAA. Altitudes between 8,000 to 27,000 feet will satisfy many training needs. The majority of MOA training operations would take place at high altitudes and over unpopulated and sparsely populated areas.

The Navy and California Air National Guard are requesting to develop this airspace for many reasons, specifically flight safety, economic and quality of training. The current primary airspace that NAS Lemoore aircraft use is the Restricted Area R-2508 located in the China Lake/Edwards AFB Complex. R-2508 supports 14 different joint participating bases of which NAS Lemoore and Fresno are two. R-2508 has become increasingly crowded and difficult to complete needed training efficiently, consistently and safely for all its users.

NAS Lemoore and Fresno based aircraft currently train in airspace up to 200 NM from the station. This distance requires a considerable amount of fuel just to fly to and from the training area. With the Lemoore MOA, transit times to and from home base to the working area will be cut significantly, greatly increasing training efficiency and ultimately saving and better utilizing tax dollars.

For more information log onto the Lemoore Navy web site: www.lemoore.navy.mil/moa

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