Air and land are valuable training tools when it comes to Air Force ranges. Both are finite resources that are also utilized by the rest of society. Unfortunately, the demand for air and land in civilian pursuits can have an impact on the Air Force and Total Force training and testing missions.

Wind farms, oil exploration, urban expansion and commercial air traffic can encroach on range safety buffer zones or create hazards in the limited airspace utilized for testing and training.

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U.S. Air Force Graphic / Alfredo Tirado

A 500-foot windmill becomes a dangerous obstacle for an aircraft that may be flying as low as 100 feet off of the ground.

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U.S. Air Force Graphic // Alfredo Tirado

Oil and gas infrastructure in the Eastern Gulf of Mexico continue to expand and if the growth were to spread close to the military mission area, it would interfere with new and experimental missile testing, as well as vital operational training, causing an irreplaceable loss of capability for the Department of Defense.

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U.S. Air Force Graphic // Alfredo Tirado

With more than 50,000 flights per day, commercial air traffic uses a vast amount of the nation’s airspace. The Air Force, with a little more than 3,500 flights per day in the continental U.S., relies on airspace restrictions and coordination with the Federal Aviation Administration for air corridors and other compatible use allowances to conduct training.

Another issue arises in the realm of the radio and electromagnetic spectrum. With rapidly expanding commercial enterprise developing new technologies that occupy an ever-increasing part of the spectrum, Air Force assets can experience diminished mission capabilities which hamper full-spectrum training opportunities.

The Air Force, recognizing the balance that needs to take place outside of its range perimeters, is proactively engaging with local communities, energy providers and other government agencies to work on compatible land-use initiatives that benefit all parties involved.