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Aerial Operations Facility at the Nevada Test Site (AKA new Yucca Lake runway)

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posted on Nov, 3 2010 @ 10:33 PM
The facility is located at
N36 55 37.44 W116 0 24.80
on Google Earth. This airport showed up on Google Earth without any documents regarding it's construction showing up on the internet as far as I know. I spent some time with the DOE public information office when the runway showed up on Google Earth and got nowhere. I also got nowhere dealing with the environmental office of Nevada (exact name escapes me).

Doing a search on Desert Rock, I came across some documents regarding the construction of this airport and even it's official name.

Final Environmental Assessment for Aerial Operations Facility Modifications Nevada Test Site

As it was suspected, the facility is for UAV testing. "Pole Cat" was believed to have been tested there.

This documents indicates the environmental work began in December of 2000.
Aerial Operations Facility Impact

This document indicates as of 2009 the environmental report existed but was not available for electronic download.
Not Electronically Available 2009
If it doesn't exist electronically, there is no way for google to find it. Searching on the official name did not find any federal registry publications.

Note the current Google Earth imagery has a Beachcraft BE190 and a Pilatus PC-12. Presumably these are the Groom Lake and Lockheed Martin shuttles, though you really can't be sure.

Using the Google Earth History tool, the new runway shows up on Dec 13, 2002. It looks like a dirt runway. It doesn't appear to be paved until Oct 1, 2005. At this point it is also marked. On December 2nd, 2006, a new hangar shows up. Note that Google Earth imagery dates are not reliable.

This area is difficult at best to see from public land. You can see it from Bonanza Peak. Actually near the summit though the peak should be better. You can see the runway in this photo:

posted on Nov, 4 2010 @ 10:36 PM
I have pondered that site before, why an airstrip there.
So why test UAV's there? Why not at Groom, or TTR?

I think I figured it out. NTS is trying to "diversify" itself - "Life Beyond Nuclear Testing... The Nevada Test Site":

One plan is developing "Desert Rock Sky Park", where the old Desert Rock airstrip is. Also, apparently Lockheed Martin was going to use NTS as the site for the launch and recovery of "Venturestar", which was cancelled in 2001. I wonder if they had started on facilities for this, and switched over to using it for UAV development and testing. Quote "VentureStar's launch and recovery site is planned for Area 18. The Desert Rock Airport would serve as its runway."
edit on 4-11-2010 by FosterVS because: (no reason given)

posted on Nov, 4 2010 @ 11:12 PM
reply to post by FosterVS

The Polecat was an internal project for Lockheed. Maybe proof of concept is a better description. I don't believe there was an intent to sell the Polecat as is. So I could see them not wanting to book time at Groom, or even Groom not wanting the project there. These UAVs have a tendency to become lawn darts or smash into the side of a mountain with loss of signal. Thus setting up this very private airfield makes sense. Lockheed can develop without having to deconflict with Groom. Should the Polecat crash, well better in this valley than in a more public area. There is a limited number of places where UAVs are sanctioned to fly. You wouldn't want a UAV to say crash near highway 58 by Edwards. Oh wait, that already happened. ;-)

What is really more intriguing is the DOE keeping this under wraps. The only public comment was from other agencies, not the general public. If this environmental impact report or even the existence of the report was in the federal register, I would have made it a point to read the report. Rather it just shows up on Google Earth and nobody from the NTS can offer an explanation to a public inquiry.

Now that we finally know the official name of the airfield, go and google it. Not much shows up.

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