Press release: USAF proposes low altitude tactical training area

CANNON AIR FORCE BASE, N.M. – The United States Air Force is seeking input regarding its intent to prepare an Environmental Assessment to evaluate the potential environmental consequences of establishing a Low Altitude Tactical Navigation area in northern New Mexico and southern Colorado. The LATN would provide airspace to operate C-130 and CV-22 aircraft for training purposes. The LATN would allow the Air Force to train aircrew members and conduct military flight activities which may include, but are not limited to, air combat maneuvers and low altitude tactics.

The LATN will provide training airspace for Air Force Special Operation Forces at Cannon Air Force Base. Cannon AFB is located in eastern New Mexico approximately five miles west of the city of Clovis. The training would consist of approximately three sorties per 24-hour period, or approximately 688 flights annually. Aircraft altitudes would remain between 200 and 3,000 feet above ground level, with the majority of the sorties taking place at 500 feet above ground level at airspeeds at or below 250 knots, and the majority of flights would take place after dusk.

Approximately 95 percent of flights would occur Monday through Friday.

FAA and Air Force regulations require aircraft utilizing the LATN area to avoid airfields, towns, noise-sensitive areas, and wilderness areas by prescribed vertical and/or horizontal distances. For all other areas within the LATN, aircrews are prohibited from flying over the same point more than once per day. The sole objective of the LATN area is to support low-level flight training operations.

Mountainous terrain best supports development of special operations mobility skills. The proposed LATN area in Colorado and New Mexico was selected due to the varied topography and weather, proximity to Cannon AFB, and lack of large civilian populations. Realistic raining in the LATN would enhance the 27 Special Operations Wing’s ability to provide air combat support and would sustain combat-ready crews for worldwide deployment.

This notification is being sent pursuant to the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969, the Council on Environmental Quality Regulations for Implementing the Procedural Provisions of NEPA, and Air Force policy. The EA will assess the environmental impacts from the proposed action, one alternative which includes creating a smaller LATN area, and a no action alternative. The Air Force would like input concerning the proposed action and alternatives, as well as issues to address in the EA. For more information, visit the Cannon AFB website at www.cannon.af.mil, or contact 27th Special Operations Wing Public Affairs at 575-784-4131 or 27SOWpublicaffairs@cannon.af.mil by October 4, 2010.

-Air Commandos-