Michigan Air National Guard --
ALPENA, Mich. – A proposal to update military training airspace around Grayling Aerial Gunnery Range will help ensure the readiness of Air National Guard flight crews nationwide, according to ANG leaders at Alpena Combat Readiness Training Center.
The proposal would modify and create new Military Operating Areas (MOAs) in the Alpena Special Use Airspace (SUA) Complex, the U.S. military’s largest training zone of its kind east of the Mississippi River.
Modifications to the airspace would include new MOAs at low and medium altitudes over parts of Otsego and Crawford counties, an increased ceiling at Camp Grayling, and new low-altitude MOAs over portions of Presque Isle, Montmorency, Alpena, Huron, Tuscola, and Sanilac Counties.
This proposal is not to be confused with two other initiatives in the region: the Grayling Temporary MOA – a re-establishment of medium-altitude airspace, used since 2010 to support summer training exercises around Grayling – and the Joint Land Use Study (JLUS), which assists civic organizations with recommending compatible military land use near existing installations.
“The military is interested in modifying the airspace to accommodate better training for modern fighter aircraft,” said Mr. Matthew Trumble, director of exercises for the Michigan Air National Guard. “The airspace was created during the Korean War and Vietnam War eras – around Grayling Range, the airspace is simply too small for twenty-first century tactics.”
The Grayling Aerial Gunnery Range is a major Air National Guard training site for a variety of aircraft, including A-10 Thunderbolts based at Selfridge ANG Base in Macomb County and F-16 Fighting Falcons from Toledo ANG Base, Ohio. Air National Guard bases send aircrews for training events throughout the year, including “Northern Strike,” the Department of Defense’s largest annual joint, reserve component exercise. Each year, Northern Strike pours at least $4 million into Northern Michigan’s economy over a two-week period with as many as 6,400 visiting military personnel from around the world.
Col. John Miner, Alpena CRTC commander, says the airspace proposal has big-picture implications toward ensuring the readiness of U.S. military personnel to defeat threats in a challenging global security environment.
“Over the past 50 years, technology has drastically changed what the training of lethal warfighters looks like, but the ability to build a credible deterrent force is still what matters,” said Miner. “Very few areas exist nationwide where this quality of training can take place.”
According to Trumble, the U.S. National Guard Bureau originally recommended the modifications via the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), which manages the National Airspace System (NAS) and is the final decision-making authority for modifications to airspace usage in the continental U.S.
Before any changes are approved, there is an in-depth approval process under the FAA which includes a 45-day period when all affected stakeholders are encouraged to review and comment on the proposal. An environmental assessment for the proposal is ongoing, which addresses many potential impacts such as noise, commerce, and changes to general and commercial aviation flight patterns.
The airspace proposal will be available for the 45-day public comment phase, along with the environmental assessment, within the next several months. Details will be made available in future media releases, Alpena CRTC’s website, https://www.alpenacrtc.ang.af.mil/, and other public venues.
“There are flexibilities to the airspace, which help minimize impact to non-military aviation in the surrounding area,” said Trumble. “Commercial aviation can be routed around, under, or over the airspace.”
As members of the aviation community, Air National Guard leaders understand that general aviation operators may have concerns about the airspace modification proposal. They invite a dialogue with the public to find the best solutions.
“For us, we live to train – our mission is developing lethal warfighters – but we also want to maintain the incredible relationships we have with our communities, civil authorities, and the airports we work with,” said Miner. “The process is at the point where we’re looking for input from our local communities – we want to find out what their concerns are and adapt our proposal to address those issues.”
Several meetings between Air National Guard and officials in affected counties have been planned. Community leaders seeking to arrange a meeting should contact the Michigan National Guard Public Affairs Office at 517-481-7734/7731/7735. Information regarding the smaller, temporary MOA proposal can be accessed currently at the Alpena CRTC website.