Range Operations is in the final stages of the completion for the new aerial gunnery range which will encompass previous ranges 78 and 79.

Range Operations is in the final stages of the completion for the new aerial gunnery range which will encompass previous ranges 78 and 79.

Major construction just ended. They’re doing erosion improvement now. Next, the targets will be installed, a process that should begin in July and could take several months. Afterwards, the range will undergo a government acceptance test on Dec. 14. Once it passes 100 percent, it will be sanctioned for use.

The project is ahead of schedule, said Robert Havens, senior scheduler. They hope to have it open by January. It was originally anticipated to open mid 2019 at the earliest, 2020 at the latest.

The $46 million project spans roughly 2,690 acres and will have over 400 targets including stationary armor targets, mobile armor targets, stationary infantry targets, and mobile infantry targets.

The range will have both frontal shot and side shot stationary armor targets. The mobile armor targets will consist of a tank moving laterally on a track. The stationary infantry targets will be on two levels and can be fired upon from the air or ground and many will be in clusters.

In addition to the new targets, the range will utilize 14 of the 17 old firing points from ranges 78 and 79 that had been shut down.

The range has facade buildings and multiple villages for training as well, some of them left over from the old ranges.

This facility will be “on par or better, target wise and capability wise” than the aerial gunnery ranges Fort Bragg Soldiers often have to use to qualify, said Havens.

The capabilities of the range extend beyond aerial gunnery. It can also be used for convoy live fire exercises, dismounted live fire exercises, and combined arms live fire exercises. It could even accommodate medical evacuation training.

On this range, Soldiers can utilize most of the weapon systems that they have. The only thing it won’t be able to accomodate is full on hellfire missiles because they take up too much space, said Havens.

Without this range, Soldiers often had to go out of state to train and qualify which can become costly.

“This is going to end up saving the Army a lot of money,” said Havens.

The project initially began in 2002 but was stalled indefinitely for going over budget due to unknown environmental issues.

“The project was halted right after old targets were removed and just before major construction started,” said Wolf Amacker, Installation Range Officer.

“That left Fort Bragg without any aerial gunnery capabilities whatsoever. As a stopgap measure, Fort Bragg received enough funding to place some targets in the old range 78/79 area until the current project was funded and started,” he said.

Construction on this range began again in 2016.