There are at least five military bases that utilize Military Training Routes (MTRs) or Military Operation Areas (MOAs) in the Gila region and *two others that may do so on special training operations. Each of the bases has multiple units and active military aircraft. Below is a general description of the activity and aircraft originating from each base. While Holloman is the base from which the proposed, LOBO MOA originates, any regional base may potentially utilize the airspace. You can learn more about current military flight activity in the Gila Region below.
Holloman Air Force Base, White Sands, NM. (49th Wing Command )
The 54th fighter group out of Holloman AFB includes two fighter squadrons and is a geographically separated unit under the command of the 56th Fighter Wing at Luke AFB, Arizona. This group operates the F-16 Fighting Falcon aircraft and conducts advanced fighter training. When Holloman implements its F-16 training expansion program in 2018, the 54th will come under the command structure of the 49th Wing Command at Holloman, as will several other units throughout the Southwest. Training plans include conducting up to 10,000 F-16 sorties per year. The 54th group flies within several MOAs that border the Gila National Forest.
Davis Monthan Air Force Base, Tucson, AZ.
With more than a dozen units (both resident and “tenant”), Davis Monthan may be the origin of several military aircraft that can be seen over the Gila. Both the EC130H Compass Call and the HC130J Combat King fly from Davis and multiple F-16 fighter squadrons utilize the base, flying over 10,000 sorties per year. In addition, Davis is home to over eighty A-10C Thunderbolt II aircraft. Several units also utilize the HH-60G Pave Hawk helicopter. Although Davis Monthan maintains MOAs west of Tucson, they also appear to be using military airspace over the Gila National Forest, as confirmed by multiple A-10C aircraft sightings and photo documentation in the fall of 2017.
Arizona Air National Guard, Tucson, AZ.
Tucson International Airport hosts the Tucson Air National Guard (ANG) and the 162nd fighter wing – the largest ANG fighter unit in the US – and operates seventy F-16 Fighting Falcons. The 162nd may also fly out of Davis Monthan Air Force Base in Tucson. Tucson ANG planes regularly fly in Military Operation Areas that border the Gila National Forest.
Luke Air-Force Base, Phoenix, AZ.
Located west of Phoenix, Luke Air Force Base is home to the 56th Fighter Wing, the largest Fighter Wing in the world and the Air Force’s only F-16 training wing. The wing trains squadrons of F-35A Lightning II pilots and is responsible for squadrons under the 54th Fighter Group located at Holloman Air Force Base, New Mexico. Luke flies primarily within MOAs clustered around the Phoenix area and Sonoran Desert, but may use the Morenci MOA as well.
Kirtland Air Forces Base, Albuquerque, NM.
The 377th Air Base Wing is the host organization at Kirtland Air Force Base and supports nuclear readiness, non-conventional weapons development, missile technology, and several special operations units. Much of the aircraft utilizing Kirtland are Huey and Pave Hawk helicopters and the tilt-rotor craft, the Osprey. These helicopters train in MOAs in the northern part of the state. However, there are also four different C-130s that fly from Kirtland that may use Military Training Routes that traverse the Gila region.
Cannon Air Force Base, Clovis, NM.
The 27th Special Operations Wing at Cannon has over a dozen squadrons utilizing multiple types of military aircraft. Their fleet includes surveillance craft – MQ-1 Predators, MQ-Reaper, and U-128,the rescue craft CV-22 Osprey, and large transport planes such as C-130s and a C-146. It is unknown whether Cannon utilizes military airspace over the Gila.
Fort Bliss Army Base, El Paso, TX.
Fort Bliss is the largest military training area in the United States. Its website boasts that its reach extends over a million acres across the desert Southwest, including the most expansive Department of Defense controlled airspace in the world. Fort Bliss was just granted access to a Live Training Area that includes the Silver City area.