March 17, 2015
WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), senior member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, today announced that a deal has been reached with the U.S. Army, U.S. Air Force, and the Lawton community to upgrade the radar located at Fort Sill to a digital ASR-8.
“The ASR-8 digital upgrade ensures that Fort Sill will be able to continue training uninterrupted and with minimal risk to pilots and readiness. It will also ensure that the Lawton-Fort Sill Regional Airport will be able to continue flight operations with no increased safety risk to airline passengers,” Inhofe said. “This upgrade is absolutely necessary and serves as a reminder that when we work together we can make important advancements for our nation’s military. I applaud the Army and Air Force for choosing to do this upgrade."
"The Army and the Air Force have agreed in principle to cost share the digital upgrade of the ASR-8 radar at Fort Sill,” said Maj. Gen. Gary Cheek, assistant deputy chief of staff, G-3/5/7. "While the details of this agreement are still in staffing, the agreement will ensure the same air traffic services as in the past to ensure safe live firing at Fort Sill and to maximize training opportunities for the Air Force. We anticipate executing the upgrade in 2017.”
Fort Sill currently has an analog version of the ASR-8 radar which will not be supported by the Federal Aviation Administration after 2017. Without an upgrade to the digital ASR-8 radar, the flying training mission at Sheppard Air Force Base would be hampered by reducing the number of flights per student and lengthening the NATO training course, as well as increasing the training risk to Fort Sill. It would also leave civilian pilots landing at Lawton-Fort Sill Regional Airport without radar coverage below 1300 Feet AGL in some parts of their approach. In the last 60 days, Fort Sill has detected 95 aircraft that were headed into their restricted airspace and they were all diverted because of the radar. In the six months prior to that, eight incursions into restricted airspace occurred and caused seven checkfires adversely affecting training at Fort Sill.