August 2, 2000

Radar Test Planned for Ocean City Airport

     From August 4 to August 19, 2000, the Department of Defense’s Ballistic Missile Defense Organization (BMDO) plans to conduct a test of radar capabilities using radars at Wallops Island, VA, the Ocean City, MD airport, and aboard a Navy cruiser at sea. The test is designed to help develop improved capabilities to detect and track threatening aircraft or missiles at longer ranges than is now possible.

     An Army PATRIOT radar will be temporarily set up and operated at the Ocean City MD airport. The test will involve several radars cooperatively interacting to detect and track objects. Navy radars involved in the test will be located at the Navy’s facility at Wallops Island, and on board an AEGIS cruiser in the Atlantic. Two Lear jets flown by the Navy will fly in a military range area over the Atlantic and will act as "target objects" for the radar network to detect and track. A Navy P-3 Orion aircraft will also fly in the area and act as a relay for information transmitted among the radars.

     The AEGIS cruiser, returning from a six month deployment, will be in the area during that period and using its radar and communications capabilities to participate in this test and represents no departure from routine types of activities at sea. Similarly, the aircraft participating in the test are subsonic types of aircraft routinely flown by the Navy in this range area, in substantially the same fashion.

     The radar to be used at Wallops Island is a permanent, shore-based radar that has been used routinely for radar detecting and tracking activities for several years. The use of this radar in this test will not result in any new activities with any potential to affect the environment.

     The Patriot radar to be used will be temporarily set up at the Ocean City Airport along with communications and test equipment. This will involve parking about twenty trailers and vans in the infield areas of the airport, and setting up the Patriot system’s truck-mounted radar. No missiles will be deployed or used in this test.

     The BMDO has worked closely with the Ocean City Airport Authority to develop a plan to enable the Patriot radar and associated equipment to use the airport site while avoiding or minimizing any impact to the environment or disruption to airport operations. An Environmental Assessment (EA) of this action has been prepared by BMDO in compliance with the National Environmental Policy Act. The EA led to a Finding of No Significant Impact in regard to this action.

     The EA, and the Finding of No Significant Impact are available on BMDO’s website at