Photo by U.S. Air National Guard Tech. Sgt. Caycee Watson U.S. Air Force members from the 169th Fighter Wing and South Carolina Air National Guard are deployed to Fallon Naval Air Station to support Naval Carrier Air Wing One with pre-deployment fighter jet training. The base is currently looking into expansion of their training ranges.

Photo by U.S. Air National Guard Tech. Sgt. Caycee Watson
U.S. Air Force members from the 169th Fighter Wing and South Carolina Air National Guard are deployed to Fallon Naval Air Station to support Naval Carrier Air Wing One with pre-deployment fighter jet training. The base is currently looking into expansion of their training ranges.

The Fallon Naval Air Station is proposing to increase their public lands for training use.

Located in Churchill County, the station is looking to increase their training land by approximately four times, about 1,262 square miles.

Currently the air station has 202,859 acres of land in which to train. The U.S. Navy is requesting an additional 604,789.

A public hearing regarding this issue will be held at 5 p.m. on Oct. 5 at Eureka Elementary School in the multipurpose room.

“The analysis showed that the size of the Fallon Ranges severely restricts the types of weapons that can be used, which limits training realism and effectiveness,” a proposal released by the U.S. Navy stated. “These limitations leave aircrews and special operations forces unable to fully train, compromising their safety and success in combat.”

The Navy states that with newer aircraft, they require more training space.

“The boundaries of the Fallon Ranges have not changed to accommodate for the capabilities of modern weapons,” the release said. “Modern weapons can reach targets at greater distances than ever before, but current range boundaries limit this type of training. Expanding the range boundaries would allow military personnel to train in a realistic and in some instances 360-degree, combat scenario.”

Built as a World War II Army Air Corps airstrip in the 1940’s, the air station has served its country well.

Originally developed to be a fallback airstrip to launch missions against Japanese strikes against the West Coast, it has now developed into a complete training facility that trains aviators in the art of air warfare.

Currently, over 3,000 active duty personnel, civilian employees and Department of Defense contractors are employed and live in and around the Fallon area.

Churchill County officials first learned of the proposal on Aug. 26 and are scheduled to formally review the air station’s proposal at a Sept. 21 Churchill County Commissioner’s meeting.

The purchase of additional land must first be sign off by Congress. If given their blessing to the expansion, private land could be bought by the Navy at fair-market price.

It is unknown if the area’s in Mineral County that are being considered for expansion contain areas used for recreation, mining or ranching.

Information provided by the Navy shows that the base contributed $517 million in economic activity in a three-county area in 2015 and that their payroll was $84 million.