Air Force reduces planned munitions tests at PMRF

JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-LACKLAND, Texas -- After re-evaluating its Long Range Strike Program mission requirements, the Air Force has significantly reduced the number of live munitions that will be used during military test missions at the Pacific Missile Range Facility (PMRF) in 2017.

Instead of testing 106 live munitions, the Air Force will use up to eight during its 2017 Long Range Strike Weapons System Evaluation Program tests at the PMRF. The planned test site is approximately 44 nautical miles north of the island of Kauai; 2017 test activity will primarily use non-explosive concrete munitions and take place in August.

The Air Force is also reducing the total number of live munitions used during the Long Range Strike WSEP from 2017 – 2021 by almost 60 percent, using 220 live munitions instead of the 530 originally proposed. The Air Force still plans to conduct the same number of munitions releases - approximately 550 - at PMRF overall, but will substitute non-explosive munitions for live munitions, as mission requirements allow.

“The Air Force is committed to the responsible use and protection of natural resources,” said Mike Ackerman, Air Force Civil Engineer Center National Environmental Policy Act Division. “The changes to the Long Range Strike WSEP will reduce the potential for impacts to marine life and the environment.”

As a military readiness activity, the program ensures Air Force pilots understand how to best employ their weapons systems and properly train with them just prior to a units’ real-world operational deployment. Non-explosive inert munitions will be substituted for live munitions in tests where mission requirements can still be achieved.

The Air Force conducted an extensive assessment of impacts to marine species and is working with the National Marine Fisheries Service to mitigate, limit, and prevent any unnecessary impacts to marine life during the tests, Ackerman added. The Air Force will also collect acoustic monitoring data for future effects analysis, and conduct pre-mission visual flyover inspections prior to test activities.

“Missions will be postponed if the Air Force observes marine mammals or other protected species in the target area,” he said.

Additionally, environmental evaluations of other resource areas, including air quality, water quality, and cultural resources analysis indicated no significant impacts would occur.

For more information, contact AFCEC at 210-925-0956.