WSMR RANGE-WIDE ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT STATEMENT

3.12 NOISE

This section describes the current noise-producing activities on WSMR. Following this are
summaries of noise levels of major existing on-range WSMR programs.

3.12.1 Noise From Current WSMR Activities

The launch complexes and airspace over WSMR is the primary environment containing the
major noise sources on the range. Restrictions on use of WSMR airspace are described in
Section 3.9.2.1. Training activities in the WSMR airspace include bomb delivery, Air
Combat Command and Air National Guard air-to-air combat and supersonic flight tactics,
and other military exercises. In addition, drone flights and tests of missiles, rockets, and
space vehicles occur in WSMR airspace. Large areas of the airspace are used as safety buffer
zones for missile and rocket firings.

3.12.1.1 Summary of Current Noise Sources. The U.S. Air Force uses the airspace over
the range areas of WSMR for approach and departure routing to Holloman AFB, for flights
transiting the area enroute to western and northern tactical training areas, for gunnery pattern
routes using the Red Rio and Oscura Gunnery ranges, and for supersonic air combat training.
Generally, flight activities are at a high enough altitude and a low enough frequency to
generate sound levels anticipated to be no greater than 70 dB, which is the sound level of
freeway traffic (70 dB).

A special test of the frequency, magnitude, and duration of sonic booms (supersonic air
combat training) was conducted in the WSMR airspace from July 1988 through January
1989. From this study, it was determined that supersonic aircraft operations could generate
sound-pressure levels greater than 115 dBA. However, the average sonic boom LCdn noise
level was expected to be in the range of 50 to 60 dB at distances varying from 8-16 km (5-10
mi) from the source (Geo-Marine, Inc. 1993).

The U.S. Army in its support role primarily uses the airspace over WSMR for helicopter
flight operations, search and rescue, drone recovery, test debris recovery, range evacuation
missions, and general helicopter flights transiting all area. The U.S. Army range support
helicopter is the UH-lH, which has an anticipated overflight sound level (at 1,000 ft. AGL)
no greater than in the low 80-dBA range (Jones 1991).

Other significant sources of noise in the operational testing areas of WSMR include missile
launches, ordnance explosions, aircraft drone overflights, gun firing, general vehicle traffic,
and low-altitude military jet traffic. Representative of these activities would be a Homing All
the Way to Kill (HAWK) missile launch generating peak sound pressure levels of 149.8 dB
at 300 m (1,000 ft) (Medina, pers. com. 1992), a QF-lOO full-scale aircraft target drone
producing single-event noise levels of 95.7 dBA at 300 m (1,000 ft) (Hammer, pers. com.
1992), vehicular traffic typically rated at 70 dBA (Harris 1991), and low-altitude military jet
traffic (B-52 aircraft or F-4 aircraft) producing estimated noise levels of 65 to 70 dBA at
ground level directly below the aircraft (U.S. Air Force 1993a).

Noise levels at the WSMR Main Post area (the only range population center), the WSMR
southern property boundary, and the San Andres National Wildlife Refuge (located
approximately 19 km [12 mi] north of the WSMR Main Post area) have been estimated to be
55 to 65, 45 to 55, and 45 dBA, respectively (U.S. Air Force 1990a). During JT X, Roving
Sands 93 and 94 ambient noise levels in the refuge were measured at levels between 18 and
21 dBA. (U.S.. Army Environmental Hygiene Agency 1994).

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