The Federal Aviation Authority is proposing the creation of restricted airspace — to be designated as R-7202 — over the northernmost tip of Guam to facilitate the U.S. Marine Corps’ future live-fire training exercises at Anderson Air Force Base.
“The proposed restricted area would provide the protection required to contain these hazardous activities and the weapons safety footprints for the ordnance to be used within the proposed airspace,” FAA said in the proposed rule posted last week on the Federal Register.
With an altitude of 4,900 feet from the surface, the proposed R-7202 would be established on the northwest of AAFB, the site of the Marines’ live-fire training range complex.
“No hazardous aviation activities will be authorized in this area,” the proposed rule states. “Through analysis and a series of studies, proposed R-7202 has been identified as the only feasible area capable of supporting this level of training for USMC forces in the region.”
The live-fire training range is among the projects that come with the relocation of Marine forces from Okinawa to Guam.
“Failure to establish live-fire ranges supported by R-7202 would result in the inability to train and maintain combat readiness skills for Marines,” the proposed rule states.
Airspace activities would allow training “to proceed on a scale, from small-scale and individual-level training in basic military skills to large-scale training involving a Marine Air Ground Task Force and/or joint forces,” FAA said.
In August 2017, the Naval Facilities Command awarded a $78-million contract to Black Construction Corp. for the live-fire training range complex at AAFB Northwest Field, located above the adjacent wildlife refuge in Ritidian. Construction work, however has been suspended after the discovery of artifacts in the project site.
While the military currently holds live-fire training activities on Guam, FAA said it does not have sufficient range and special use airspace space for those exercises.
“These skills are critical to supporting USMC readiness for real world operations. Activities conducted within the proposed restricted area include live-fire from pistols, rifles, and machine guns,” said FAA, which is proposing the special-use airspace in response to the Marine Corps' request.
“While some of the specific (special use airspace) will be primarily used by one uniformed service over others, it is the intent that all of the proposed airspace actions will be used by all forward deployed (Pacific Command) forces," the proposed rule states. "This will create the smallest footprint and allow for joint use of each type of airspace, posing the least impact to the airspace for all other users.”
The public has until April 19 to submit comments on the proposed rule.
Send comments on this proposal to the U.S. Department of Transportation, Docket Operations, 1200 New Jersey Avenue SE, West Building Ground Floor, Room W12-140, Washington, DC 20590-0001; telephone: 1 (800) 647-5527, or (202) 366-9826. You must identify FAA Docket Number FAA-2019-0094; Airspace Docket No. 15-AWP-17 at the beginning of your comments. You may also submit comments through the internet at http://www.regulations.gov.
FAA, however, said it has determined that the proposed rule only constitutes necessary “routine amendments” and “is not a significant regulatory action.”
“Since this is a routine matter that will only affect air traffic procedures and air navigation, it is certified that this proposed rule, when promulgated, will not have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities under the criteria of the Regulatory Flexibility Act,” FAA said.
Meanwhile, the Joint Region Marianas announced last week that the Navy has suspended work at the future site of the live fire training range complex following the recent discovery of Latte Period artifacts scattered around the project area.
JRM said a small surface scatter of ceramic fragments were found during the monitoring of construction work on March 19. An archaeologist from Marine Corps Activity Guam, who visited the site that afternoon, determined the area to “a significant eligible site,” JRM said.
“Per the existing programmatic agreement, immediately upon the discovery the approved data recovery action plan was initiated, all work was halted at the site, the area was appropriately marked off with flagging tape and the State Historic Preservation Office was notified,” JRM said. “Due to its location within the footprint of the range, MCAG Environmental will perform archaeological data recovery to mitigate adverse effects. Thus far, no other class of artifacts has been observed and there is no indication of features.”
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