The Razorback Range, an aircraft bombing and targeting range at Fort Chaffee, is officially being transferred over to the Arkansas Army National Guard on Sept. 30.
Since a change in mission that began in 2014, the 188th Wing of the Arkansas Air National Guard has flown remotely piloted aircraft overseas from Ebbing Air National Guard Base.
“The range will still be in place and available for use by aircraft in the Air Force arsenal,” Maj. Will Phillips, state public affairs officer for the Arkansas National Guard, said by phone Wednesday. “It doesn’t mean the range will not be used.”
Known in the military world as a “a conventional non-nuclear scoreable class A air-to-ground gunnery range,” Razorback Range has been operated by 188th at an elevation of 450 feet above sea level in the Fort Chaffee Joint Maneuver Training Center.
The Arkansas Air National Guard members who work at Razorback Range will be given the opportunity to transfer to other positions in the Air National Guard, said Sgt. Chauncey Reed of the 188th Wing.
Razorback Range currently has eight full-time employees and three drill-status Guard members. According to Reed, the Range began operations in 1975 on a 177- acre facility with two targets. By 1992 the facility grew to approximately 1,000 acres with more than 50 targets.
The Arkansas Air National Guard and visiting units had used the range for training exercises regularly until a change in mission that began in 2013. The last A-10 Warthogs flew out of Ebbing in April 2014.
Col. Bobbi Doorebos, 188th Wing commander who oversaw the transition to a remotely piloted aircraft unit, was recently promoted to brigadier general and will move to work at the Pentagon in Washington, D.C. A new 188th Wing commander has not yet been named.
Doorenbos will be at the Total Force Continuum office, which is designed to integrate the Air National Guard, Air Force Reserve and active duty, the Times Record recently reported.
A $15 million, 40,000-square-foot expansion at Ebbing for the 188th Wing was announced in September when Doorenbos gave a media tour. A construction contract was recently issued for the expansion and the groundbreaking is expected in 2018, Reed said.
According to the Air National Guard website, Razorback Range has two “scorable, low-angle strafe targets” and more than “40 scorable tactical target bomb circles.”
There is also a “tactical village,” an “urban village” with $2.4 million in equipment, not including heavy equipment for target construction and maintenance.
Fort Chaffee Joint Maneuver Training Center is a 64,590-acre site with “regional selective training capability.” It is one of only two of the National Guard’s training installations nationwide with a major river and property on both sides. This is key for some training used by Department of Defense components such as special operations and warfare units from all services, such as the Marines, Navy, Department of Defense, U.S. Army Reserve, and civilian training. In 2015 alone, the training center also hosted training for 22 other states’ national guards.