Is There an End in Sight?

New Jersey Rep. Frank LoBiondo (R) wants Gov. Jon Corzine to permit the Air National Guard’s 177th Fighter Wing to begin using the Warren Grove Gunnery Range, which it has been prohibited from doing since the May 2007 fire ignited by a flare dropped by a wing F-16. LoBiondo sent the governor a letter last week, reminding him it had been one year since the Air Force had briefed officials on the accident investigation results and proposed safety enhancements. He also reminded Corzine that “the vital training” this range provided many units from various states “has been moved to less flexible, less capable, and more distant ranges.” For the 177th FW alone, wrote LoBiondo, the additional fuel, maintenance, and sorties amounted to an estimated $1.5 million in increased cost, which doesn’t include wasted flying hours. He added that other units had “conservatively” spent an extra $4.4 million. The Air Force settled thousands of claims stemming from the fire that damaged homes, businesses, and pinelands.