Construction and operation of a sophisticated electronic battlefield in western Utah will have little effect on the economy of Davis County but will increase air traffic at Hill Air Force Base, the Davis Council of Governments was told Wednesday.
Dick Hector, project director for the 6545th Test Group at Hill, said plans call for construction of the radar and computer complex on the Utah Test and Training Range along the Utah-Nevada border over the next decade.The majority of the construction will be on the range, Hector told the mayors and city officials, but a new command and support facility will be built at Hill to operate the range.
And, air traffic on the range could increase by 30 percent over the next decade as fighter and bomber pilots begin training on the new system, he said. Much of the increase in air traffic will affect Hill's operations, he said, but some of the planes will come from other bases and not utilize Hill.
Hill is already one of the Air Force's busiest bases in terms of takeoffs and landings, Hector said, so the battlefield's construction will require some adjustments at the base. It could require more nighttime and weekend operations, he said.
Building and operating the battlefield's mission control center at Hill will bring in new electronics firms and could increase employment at the base by 250 to 300 people, he said.
Most of the range support personnel, such as radar and computer technicians, would have to be located closer to the area, probably in Delta.
And, Hector said, if Hill becomes too busy, new support airstrips may have to be upgraded or built, probably at Dugway Proving Ground, Wendover or the Oasis camp near Lakeview.
An operational air strip already exists at Dugway but the Wendover strip, which dates back to World War II, is in disrepair and would have to be rebuilt, Hector said. Oasis does not have an airstrip now. Small planes landing and taking off there use the highway leading into the camp.
Hector said construction on the electronic battlefield could begin as early as 1990, with the first phase complete by 1993. The construction will be done in phases but the battlefield will be operational and available for training by 1991, he said.
The second phase of construction would run from 1994 through 1999, with the site fully operational by the turn of the century, Hector said.
Hector said an environmental impact statement is being drawn up now but he sees little problem with the proposal. Most of the area affected is either public land or has been used as a training area for decades and environmental studies already exist.
The environmental impact statement, which addresses the question of more flights in and out of Hill, will be ready by May, he said, and public hearings will follow.
The electronic battlefield will consist mostly of radar sites and computers to simulate the electronic environment fighter and bomber pilots will encounter on a modern battlefield.
No real bullets or missiles will be fired, Hector said. Pilots and ground control operators will rely instead on computer simulations of attack and defensive maneuvers to train the pilots.