USAF Bomber Training
The Snyder Electronic Scoring Site was
established in 2002, at the Scurry County
Airport in Snyder, Texas. The mission of the ESS
is to provide "real world" airpower threat
reaction training to United States Air Force
aircrews thus, ensuring the survivability of
personnel and equipment in actual battle.
Most pilots are familiar with Military Operation
Areas. These MOA’s are airspaces provided by the
federal government to allow military pilot
training in various aircraft.
The Lancer MOA is located in West Texas
between Abilene and Lubbock. This
airspace measures approximately 3,200
square miles and begins at 6,500 feet
above Mean Sea Level and extends upward
to 40,000 feet. The primary customers of
the Lancer MOA consist of B-52H aircrews
of the 2nd Bomb Wing from Barksdale Air
Force Base in Bossier City, Louisiana
and B-1B aircrews of the 7th Bomb Wing
from Dyess AFB in Abilene, Texas. It is
used on a "real time basis", meaning
Lancer is only activated when an
airborne aircraft requests its use and
is on the schedule.
Williams is the Airspace Manager for the
7th Bomber Wing based out of Dyess AFB.
In an exclusive TXAA civilian tour,
Dwight explained the concept and
procedures of the Snyder ESS.
SNK Radar Personnel
(L to R) Site Manager Bill
Clingenpeel, radar technician & Dwight
located on the grounds of the Snyder Winston
Field Airport (KSNK), is comprised of a 7,000
square foot main building plus several adjacent
radar devices surrounded by a high security
fence on 15 acres of land. Scattered within the
Lancer MOA on private ranches, are several
remote radar emitters. The Snyder ESS provided
electronic combat training for 1295 sortie
operations in the year ending December 31, 2007.
When asked why Snyder was picked as the location
for the ESS system Williams said, “The Lancer
MOA is located directly overhead where as other
airports are on the periphery of the airspace.
Also, the infrastructure of the city of Snyder
provided an adequate amount available land at
this airport. The city was very cooperative in
helping to establish the facility.” Williams
explained that there was a problem sited right
away; that of inadequate water pressure to the
facility. The city of Snyder provided a pumping
station at the cost of over $15 thousand
dollars. “Out of their own pocket they did that
and we were very appreciative.” The Air Force
worked closely with the city manager and the
local utilities. “It’s a pretty neat deal. We
bring approximately 1.2 million dollars into the
local economy,” said Williams.
The Snyder ESS facility site manager is Bill
Clingenpeel, employee of AHNTECH Corporation,
the private contractor for operations. Bill
started work in 2002. He had transferred from
Everton, Arkansas and now owns a home in Snyder.
Bill explained that his facility provides
precision tracking of the aircraft inbound for a
simulated bombing run. His job is to provide
electronic warfare in the form of a hostile
threat environment that the bomber crews might
encounter while penetrating a foreign airspace.
“We’re the bad guys on the ground,” said Bill.
“We send up signals that simulate tracking
radar, anti aircraft artillery and surface to
air missiles. It is the aircrew’s job to avoid
us, get in there and do their damage.”
Bill added that the results of this intense
training are worth the investment in money and
time. “It is extremely rare that you hear of a
bomber being shot down. Our job is to bring ‘em
home”, said Bill.
interior of the ESS building are the
machines that run the radar simulations.
These include communications radios,
transponders, radar scopes and computers
to make sense of all the data that is
sent and received. The rooms are
maintained at very cool temperatures to
keep the electronics operating properly.
Outside the building in the semi desert
environment is the radar hardware. The
radar dishes will rotate to capture
incoming aircraft and transmit simulated
anti aircraft weapons and radar tracking
signals. Other dishes will receive data
from the aircrews.
ESS Radar Screen
showing Bomber Echo Information
As Williams was
describing the various pieces of equipment, a
loud warning horn cracked through the otherwise
silent air. A large antenna then began to swing
toward the Northeast sky. “That must be the B-52
inbound from Louisiana,” said Williams pointing
to a tiny white contrail high in the cloudless
blue sky. The large antenna would periodically
adjust a few degrees to compensate for the
distance traveled by the bomber located
somewhere high in the sky. “The B-1B bombers
normally operate below 26,000 feet while the
B-52’s operate above 30,000 feet,” said
Williams. “The base of the Lancer MOA is 6,500
feet but we restrict our operations to 12,000
feet and above. This is for noise considerations
and for General Aviation traffic avoidance.”
The tour concluded after the Snyder ESS facility
was bombed and destroyed (simulated) by the
Meanwhile, Back At The Ranch:
At the Snyder Winston Field terminal
building, airport manager Roger
Sullenger and his associate Bob Snedeker
greet arriving aircraft. There is no
self serve fuel farm here. Instead, a
personal friendly smile and West Texas
“Howdy” welcome each pilot landing
there. Snyder has become a popular stop
off for transient pilots wanting to
refuel on long cross country flights.
Word travels fast among pilots about the
friendly atmosphere, free courtesy car
and reasonably priced fuel which are all
valuable commodities for General
Aviation. Roger says that the ESS
facility and the folks that run it are
good neighbors. “We are always asked
what the strange looking building and
radar dishes are about,” says Roger as
he parks his fuel truck next to a newly
Bob Snedeker (left) &
arrive from all over the state. The Mooney
driver was from Houston on his way to catch the
last of the snow skiing season in Red River, New
Mexico. Another Grumman Tiger arrives. This
pilot was on his way to Colorado from La Grange
to visit his family. Both pilots say they have
made Snyder their preferred stop off because of
its location in the state, easy access, friendly
service and fuel prices.
Local pilot and aviation enthusiast John
Rogotzke was at the terminal building promoting
his upcoming 8th annual Snyder Fly In scheduled
for June 21st. The Texas Air Museum and the
local Chamber of Commerce sponsor the event
which features static displays of GA aircraft,
Warbirds, a antique car show and of course,
plenty of food and soft drinks. Fuel is sold at
cost and the food is free to fly in pilots.
Snyder Winston Field has a lot going for it.
Besides being a great place to stop off for a
visit, the city of Snyder and Scurry County
enthusiastically support the airport and the ESS
facility located on the airfield. “We even have
movie stars stop by from time to time,” said
manager Sullenger. Stop by when in the area.
Roger will have on a pot of hot coffee
accompanied by plenty of hangar talk.
For more information about the Snyder Electronic
Scoring Site call Dwight Williams at
325-696-3666. Email John Rogotzke about the fly
call Roger Sullenger 325-573-1122 for
information about Snyder Winston Field.
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