Graphic by Naval Air Station Lemoore
The U.S. Navy has begun a sophisticated campaign to create a new military operations area (MOA) over Lemoore Naval Air Station in California's Central Valley, immediately southwest of Fresno. But AOPA is questioning the need for the Lemoore MOA.
"It's hard to see the need for this additional MOA considering the huge expanse of special-use airspace that exists already just minutes east of the air station," said Heidi Williams, AOPA manager of air traffic. "The Navy says they have to fly up to 200 miles to get to some of its training areas. What they neglect to mention is some 18,000 square miles of existing military operations and restricted areas that they fly through to get to the training areas mentioned.
"If there is some reason why they can't use the nearby Foothill, Porterville, Baskersfield, Bishop, Owens, and Isabella MOAs, perhaps they'd be willing to give that airspace back to civilian pilots."
The Navy proposes to create a 30- by 70-mile MOA with vertical limits of 5,000 feet to 35,000 feet. The MOA boundaries would be just inside portions of Victor airways V230, V107, V248, and V23. They say they need the airspace for high-altitude training flights for FA-18 Hornets based at Lemoore and California Air National Guard F-16 Falcons flying out of Fresno.
And the Navy is getting its ducks in a row on this one. They have begun a sophisticated public outreach, including a Web site, and have already convinced some California legislators to introduce resolutions supporting the MOA.
But they haven't convinced some local governments. The City of Hanford, whose airport would be covered by the MOA, has already objected.
"The MOA as proposed represents a restrictive presence for both VFR and IFR traffic transiting the area, as well as through the broad mid-section of the state of California that the MOA encompasses, and as such, carries with it definite economic implications in the near and long term," the city wrote the Navy. The city said that because of the importance of general aviation to its economy, it was "duty bound" to "pursue a course that preserves and protects uninhibited, cost-effective general aviation air travel to and from Hanford."
The city asked for either a five-mile-wide corridor through the MOA or that the Navy raise the base of the airspace to 15,000 feet.
The Navy is currently in the environmental assessment phase of its proposal, collecting data on the impacts of the proposed MOA.
General aviation pilots are encouraged to offer their comments at [email protected] or by writing to the following address.
Commander Strike Fighter Wing
U.S. Pacific Fleet (Code N30)
(ATTN: Lemoore MOA)
001 K Street
NAS Lemoore, CA 93246-5022
August 19, 2004