Concerns arise over Air Force proposal to expand airspace over southeast New Mexico


A city that is focusing on improving its commercial aviation may have to start focusing on something else if the military takes its air space for training.

If Holloman Air Force Base expands its military operations air space in southeast New Mexico, it could have a big impact in Roswell, Artesia and Carlsbad.

There may soon be a lot more F-16s in the sky in southeast New Mexico.

“The U.S. Air Force has proposed putting more fighter wings, F-16 fighter wings, at [Holloman] Air Force Base which is great,” said Kyle Armstrong, VP of Business Development at Armstrong Energy Corporation.

However, with the good comes the bad.

“What they’re talking about doing is expanding the existing MOAs so Roswell would be almost completely encircled by military operations space,” Armstrong said. 

Holloman Air Force base has a picture of the proposal on its website. The black lines show the existing military operation airspace. The orange lines show the proposed expansion. This could hurt Roswell’s commercial flights because there would be limits on when they could fly.

“If we were to potentially lose that flight service the impact on our economy and our quality of life would be tremendous,” he said.

There are also concerns about medical flight services in Artesia and Carlsbad.

“That may impact the amount of time it takes them to get to Lubbock and those minutes matter.”

The area in blue on the map indicates places the Air Force can fly as low as 500 feet. It covers a portion of the Permian Basin.

“You’re going to impact the ability of those companies to check their pipelines and make sure there aren’t leaks, but you also have the potential of putting civilian pilots and military pilots into the same air space,” he said.

These are all things Armstrong wants the Air Force to consider before taking action. The Air Force did have a public meeting in Carlsbad last year to address concerns. They say people can still give their opinions electronically at, or via U.S. Postal Service to: Holloman AFB EIS, c/o Cardno, 501 Butler Farm Road, Suite H, Hampton, VA 23666.

Air Force officials will be in Roswell Wednesday to meet with city leaders about the proposed changes, which could go into effect in the late summer or early fall.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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