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Aerospace Daily & Defense Report

Report: Closing PR Facility Could Hurt Littoral Testing

Michael Bruno

24 January 2005
Copyright © 2005 McGraw-Hill, Inc. All rights reserved. 

Aerospace Daily & Defense Report

Volume 213, Number 14

Anti-submarine warfare testing at the Atlantic Undersea Test and Evaluation Center (AUTEC) has highlighted problems for littoral testing that stem from the closure of the U.S. Navy's former major Atlantic Fleet testing facility off Puerto Rico, according to a recent Pentagon report.

Since the Atlantic Fleet Weapons Training Facility (AFWTF) on Vieques Island, Puerto Rico, was closed in 2003, AUTEC became the Navy's range of choice for conducting undersea warfare testing and measurements in the Atlantic.

However, AUTEC, located near Andros Island, Bahamas, has a "restricted size, unusual bathymetry and limited shipping traffic," the Defense Department's office of the Director of Operational Test and Evaluation (DOT&E) wrote in its fiscal 2004 report.

"As the Navy continues to emphasize shallow water operations, the lack of an appropriate littoral test site will become a serious limitation," the report said.

AUTEC's two testing sections provided in-water tracking over an area of up to 120 and 230 square nautical miles, respectively, according to

AFWTF's underwater tracking range provided about 450 square miles of instrumented deep water for three-dimensional tracking of ships, submarines and underwater weapons, according to the Navy. AFWTF was once known as the "Crown Jewel" training range of the Atlantic Fleet.

After pressure mounted through the late 1990s from Puerto Ricans and others who opposed the DOD's six-decade use of Vieques Island for testing and training, the Navy turned over the land as directed under the FY 2001 and 2002 defense authorization acts.

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