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.