KWAJALEIN ATOLL
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KWAJALEIN
CONTROL FACILITY

* NATCA KWA *

Kwajalein Atoll
Republic of the Marshall Islands


Strange planes are a fairly common sight at KWA.



ABOUT KWA . . .

After 40 years of service, the FAA left Kwajalein in January, 2006. The Department of Defense has re-opened the facility as Kwajalein Tower. At last report, the facility operates Tuesday through Saturday from 10am to 6pm, closed Sunday-Monday and holidays.


During its run as an FAA facility, KWA was a radar facility providing air traffic control service for over 100,000 square miles of the Republic of the Marshall Islands. Located about 575 miles north of the equator, or about halfway between Honolulu and Darwin, in the western Pacific Ocean, KWA provided air traffic control support for the Ronald Reagan Ballistic Missile Defense Test Site at Kwajalein Atoll.


Terminal Control (TC) was the only operational position.
This controller-designed layout was installed in April, 2002.

FPN-66 radar antenna.
KWA was a part-time facility, operating Tuesday through Saturday (weekdays on Kwajalein) from 0545 until 2130 local time and Monday (weekend day) 1200 until 2000 local time (GMT +12). Facility hours were extended as needed for missile range operations, special projects, and certain aircraft operations. Shifts generally began at 0545, 0700, and 1330, with a single 1200-2000 shift on Monday. Because of staffing limitations, stand-alone watches were common and frequently exceeded eight hours.


The airspace was divided into three areas. The tower airspace was class D, about 10nm across, and included Bucholz Army Airfield. Approach airspace was class E, from 5 to 30nm from the primary airport, and included 8 US Army operated helipads. Center/enroute airspace was class A and E from 30 to 180nm from Kwajalein, with no altitude limit, and included 17 airports.

Controllers at Oakland Center provided oceanic control in the airspace surrounding KWA, and assumed control of KWA airspace when the facility was closed.
Locally-based military traffic comprised most of our operations. We also worked airline and foreign military itinerant traffic, as well as all types of enroute traffic. Other than as overflights, general aviation operations were very rare. The only place to buy avgas in the Marshall Islands is 233 miles from Kwajalein. Only jet fuel is available on Kwajalein.


Three Japan Air Self Defense Force (JASDF) C130s are serviced in the rain.

KWA was an ATC-6 CCF, staffed by 3 FAA controllers and an Air Traffic Manager. Working here required signing a three year contract. Two extensions for two years each were available but not guaranteed. Kwajalein was considered a remote assignment, subject to a seven year mandatory rotation policy. Controllers received no CIP or Locality Pay but did receive a 10% Post Differential and a 5% Post Allowance. The Post Allowance was a foreign COLA based on spendable income, not base pay. Housing and utilities (except phone) were provided by the US Army at no charge to FAA employees.

In addition to annual leave, controllers accrued home leave at the rate of ten days per year. Home leave was only usable upon acceptance of a subsequent two-year overseas contract. For overseas employees, annual leave rollover was capped at 360 hours rather than 240.

In addition to mission-specific duties unique to KWA, knowledge of enroute, approach, tower, radar, non-radar, oceanic and ICAO procedures was required of KWA controllers. Local training resources were very limited and travel for off-site training was extremely expensive.


February 9, 1944

March 26, 1944

1950

1957 - present


S3B Vikings



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1999-2007