Fort McCoy News July 24, 2015

Upgrades pave way for aerial-gunnery range

Numerous Fort McCoy ranges and training areas are being upgraded to improve training capabilities and create an aerial-gunnery range, said Range Officer Mike Todd of the Directorate of Plans, Training, Mobilization and Security.

The planned aerial-gunnery range would encompass Ranges 2, 4, 26, and 29 and the north impact area.

Photo 1
A contractor uses a bulldozer to create a berm that will serve as backing for a moving armor target at a Fort McCoy range. Photos by Scott T. Sturkol

"Work being done now is the next step toward realizing the aerial-gunnery range, which will be modular and can include all of the aforementioned ranges as a single package or just a couple of them together as a single package, depending on a unit's training objectives," Todd said.

"An aerial-gunnery range also can provide a platform for maneuver units to complete a combined-arms live-fire exercise (CALFEX) at the company level or an extended convoy live-fire exercise for all types of units.

"A (CALFEX) may include the integration of a maneuver company (light infantry, Bradley, tank, or a combination of platoons from each); mortars; artillery; helicopters; and fixed-wing aviation, such as an F-15, F-16, or A-10, all working in concert to mass effects in a more-conventional type of operation," Todd said. "There are small urban areas on these ranges, as well, to add a higher level of complexity for the units executing the training."

At Range 2, contractors are building five vehicle-fighting positions (VFPs). "With those being built, that will bring the total to eight VFPs that are required features as part of a multipurpose training range," Todd said.

Photo 2
A new entry-control point training area recently was completed on Range 4.

Range-improvement planning, such as the Range 2 VFPs, is developed to conform to Army Training Circular (TC) 25-8 requirements. The TC provides range development and operations guidance for range planners, engineers, coordinators, and mandated range-project review boards at all levels of the Army.

Upgrades continue at Range 4. A new entry-control point and a 600-foot shock-absorbing concrete (SACON) trench recently were finished, and several other projects are ongoing.

"Ranges 4, 12, and 16, are receiving a new range-operations center (tower) and associated buildings, Todd said. "This construction includes new bleachers, an ammunition-issue point, classrooms, and bathrooms. The range also has four moving infantry target (MIT) emplacements built."

MITs, and moving armor targets (MATs), are being constructed at several ranges.

"In the impact area, three MATs are being emplaced, and one other was already completed on Range 29 in May," Todd said. "There was a substantial effort to complete unexploded ordnance (UXO) clearance prior to the MAT install as well as UXO-clearance support on the install of the rest of the structures. The impact area clearance was certainly the most intensive."

Todd said Ranges 2 and 26 each have 22 new MIT emplacements, while Ranges 6 and 29 each have one new MIT emplacement.
The use of SACON materials for installation range projects has increased from previous years. SACON is a low-density, fiber-reinforced, foamed concrete that's used as an energy-absorbing material.

SACON is widely used in the construction of live-fire training villages and the fabrication of target structures.
In addition to improvements at Range 4, a 200-foot SACON trench on Range 6 is underway, and a 600-foot SACON trench on Range 26 is scheduled for completion in the fall.

"A 600-foot SACON trench also was completed in October 2014 at Range 29," Todd said. "On Ranges 4 and 29, a SACON one-room building was installed, as well.

"Clearing a trench is a core task for infantry squad and platoon training," Todd said. "We have three Army light-infantry brigades and two Marine Corps infantry regiments that train here regularly, so these trench additions to the ranges are adding capability and preparing the post for future training needs."

Additional range-construction projects are planned and include a bridge over the La Crosse River at Range 2 that will connect all the areas necessary for an extended convoy live-fire training capability.

"The projected construction of the bridge is late in fiscal year 2017," Todd said.

For more information about range-improvement projects, call the Range Management Branch at 608-388-3721.

   (Article prepared by the Fort McCoy Public Affairs Office and the Directorate of Plans, Training, Mobilization and Security Range Management Branch.)