Navy studying bird-strike potential at N.C. site  
By JACK DORSEY, The Virginian-Pilot      February 26, 200320
       The Navy has installed a portable radar system on a proposed 
landing field site in Washington County, N.C., to assess the possible 
impact of migratory birds on aircraft operations
      The Washington County site is being considered by the Navy in its 
plans to base East Coast F/A-18 Super Hornet jets.

       A draft Environmental Impact Statement released by the Navy last 
fall indicated that, depending on the season, the potential for bird 
strikes in the Washington County area is similar to that at Oceana Naval 
Air Station in Virginia Beach and the Cherry Point Marine Corps Air 
Station in Havelock, N.C. Both are locations of F/A-18 Hornets and may 
become bases for the newly developed Super Hornets.
      The Washington County site is near the Pocosin Lakes National 
Wildlife Refuge, where migratory birds frequently stop in their travels 
up and down the East Coast.
      The proposal has sparked protests from hundreds of residents who 
have formed a coalition to keep the Navy out, saying the jets would 
bring noise without economic benefits.
      The Mobile Avian Radar System, installed last week, is sensitive 
enough to track a single bird, according to officials with the Atlantic 
Fleet in Norfolk. It will provide the Navy more information about the 
number of birds and their flight patterns.
      The site is one of two the Navy has indicated as preferred 
alternatives for an outlying practice field for F/A-18 E and F models of 
Super Hornet aircraft on the East Coast.
      The other preferred alternative is in Craven County, N.C., where 
residents mostly support a remote airfield.
      Although the Navy has characterized these two sites as preferred 
alternatives, that does not preclude selection of any other site listed 
in the Environmental Impact Statement, the Navy said.
      A final decision about whether an outlying field will be built, 
and where, will be made by the secretary of the Navy once the final 
impact statement is completed in another month or so, according to 
      The Navy has spent nearly two years visiting sites, conducting 
research and holding public hearings to obtain information from 
community leaders and other experts about any issue that could affect 
aircraft operations at each site, the Navy said.
      A decision on where to base the Super Hornets and whether and 
where to build an outlying field is expected this summer. Oceana is one 
of the bases at which the Navy is considering basing Super Hornets.20
      An additional outlying field would relieve air traffic over a 
similar facility at Fentress field in Chesapeake, the Navy has said.