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Air Force accepting public comments on environmental assessment

HILL AIR FORCE BASE, Utah --

The Air Force will begin accepting public comments Sept. 19 on a draft environmental assessment completed for a proposal to establish a restricted area of airspace (designated R-6401) to operate unmanned aircraft and to set-up facilities on a site on the Air Force’s Utah Test and Training Range to launch, control, recover and maintain the unmanned aircraft.

The unmanned aircraft, called Sub-scale Aerial Targets, are used to provide realistic live-fire training for Air Force pilots. Current operations using unmanned aircraft are done on nearby Dugway Proving Ground; with this proposal, the Air Force would move its unmanned aircraft operations to the UTTR near Wendover, Utah.

“Our mission requirements integrating unmanned aircraft have increased substantially over the last few years, as have the Army’s,” said Col. Daniel Gable, commander of Headquarters UTTR. “This new area of restricted airspace, adjacent to our current restricted airspace, will give us more operational flexibility and capability and allow us to meet the increasing demand we have for testing and training using unmanned aircraft.”

The environmental assessment was completed to collect data, conduct research and analyze potential environmental and socioeconomic consequences associated with the proposed new airspace and the setup of the UTTR site. The Air Force considered other alternatives for the location of the on-ground site and these are addressed in the Draft EA.

The Air Force has determined that the proposed project would not have significant impacts on the human environment or any of the environmental resources described in the document.

“We welcome and encourage public review and comment on the draft EA,” Gable said. “The Air Force will make a final decision about the project after considering all inputs from the public.”

The Draft EA is available at: www.hill.af.mil/Portals/58/documents/Environmental/EAWendoverAirspace.pdf.  A printed copy is also available for review at the West Wendover Branch Library, 590 Camper Drive, West Wendover, Nevada, or by contacting Michael Shane at (801) 586-2551 or michael.shane.2@us.af.mil. Comments will be accepted through midnight Oct. 19.