Wednesday, October 31, 2012

HMS Bounty Lost at Sea Update

One of two missing crew members from the replica tall ship HMS Bounty has been recovered hours after the US coastguard rescued 14 of her colleagues following a decision to abandon the vessel in the path of hurricane Sandy. You can view US Coast Guard video/audio of the SAR by clicking here.

zczc fa21
msgid/genadmin/nga navsafety wa dc//
hydrolant 2536/12(11,12,26).
wrn n atlc.
distresss sig received on 406 mhz from 180 foot s/v hms bountywin 34-11.7n 074-17.5w at 290106z oct. vessels in vicinity requested to keep a sharp lookout, assist if possible. reports to rcc norfolk, inmarsat-c: 430370670, phone: 757 398 6390, fax: 757 398 6392, e-mail: d05-smb-d5cc

For the complete story of this tragic loss click here

Monday, October 29, 2012

Exercise Global Thunder HF Traffic

Exercise Global Thunder is U.S. Strategic Command's annual field training and battle staff exercise, designed to exercise all mission areas with primary emphasis on nuclear command and control.

Global Thunder provides training opportunities for forces to deter, and if necessary, defeat a military attack against the United States - employing forces as directed by the president.

"Strategic deterrence, nuclear force employment, and command and control remain core missions for the Department of Defense," said Col. James Dawkins, 5th Bomb Wing commander. "This exercise demonstrates USSTRATCOM's ability to carry out its strategic nuclear deterrence mission."

The Global Thunder exercises are designed to reflect the ongoing evolution of USSTRATCOM and its components providing opportunities to incorporate the most current technology and techniques in support of these efforts.

Following traffic was monitored by Jeff Haverlah in Houston and is related to this exercise: Thanks for sharing with the rest of us Jeff.

1931z 27 Oct 12 11175.0 was active at 1900z and 1930z with ANGRY MAN (good/fair levels here) with the "standing by for traffic" statement (x2).

2005z 27 Oct 12 11175.0 was active at 2003z with ANDREWS (fair/good levels) with a 6-character EAM (AMGY2H) "FOR YANKEE FORCE".

2026z 27 Oct 12 15016.0 was active at 2023z with ANDREWS (good levels) bcsting a 6-character EAM (AMM6XU) "FOR YANKEE FORCE".

2231z 27 Oct 12 11175.0 was active at at 2030z with ANDREWS (good levels) bcsting a 28-character EAM (VHHAFZ). At 2032z (after the completion of the ANDREWS xmsn) ANGRY MAN was on frequency with the "standing by for traffic statement". Nothing heard since until...
11175.0 was active at 2230z with ANGRY MAN (fair/good) with the "standing by for traffic"

1935z 28 Oct 12 8992.0 was active at 1930z with CARPENTER (good levels here) bcsting 32-character EAM (IEPION) with the character count statement, closing with the "Standing by for traffic" statement (x2), and out. Simulcasting same on at least 11175.0 (fair/good) with nothing heard on 4724.0 or 15016.0. H+00/h+30 active. Suspected 'glass activity.

2024z 28 Oct 12 11175.0 was active at 1956z with ANDREWS bcsting a 28-character EAM

At 1958z CARPENTER (guess; no id given) keyed the 11175.0 in preparation for their H+00 EAM restoral. At 1959z an unknown station (garbled id, good to fair levels; deep voice) called "(sounded like "bowel" or "b-owl" aircraft) and requested they "check into the net.

At 2000z CARPENTER (fair) was up with VH5VNQ but did not close with the "standing by for traffic" statement. He dueled with ANDREWS bcsting their H+00 restoral of VH5VNQ and the 28-character EAM (VHPPQ7).

At the conclusion of the ANDREWS bcst, RED RIVER (now the id is clearly heard) came up on freq with another call for "All (something; could not make it out) check in with (sounded like "weather") on HF". RED RIVER was then up with a string of multiple numbers, and then calling what sounded
like "b-owl" aircraft again. He may have acknowledged a call from a "b-owl ##".

At 2008z CARPENTER (fair/weak) was up on 11175.0 with the "standing by for traffic statement" (x2) and out.

11175.0 was active with (sounded like "broad pin" or ??; weak/fair but unable to get a clear id) bcdsting VH5VNQ and VHPPQ7 and ending with the "standing by for traffic statement." H+10/h+40 activity. Possible TACAMO LANT activity.

At 2023z RED RIVER (good strong) called (unable to make out) 11.

2051z 28 Oct 12 13200.0 was found active at 2045z while scrolling through the HFGCS with (something; maybe AMBER) 14 (good/fair levels here) bcsting a 274 message of ? groups (missed complete message). Last 10 groups: XMP ROS XMZ WNB CTV XMP YTI HTF CTR WNB [note the repeats].

Immediately after 14's bcst AMBER 14 (good/strong levels) came up on 13200.0 with "This is AMBER 14 with an EXERCISE GLOBAL THUNDER 274 message of 21 groups" and into TYN XCE KSP RVO RAS GQE WNB YNL EJQ ROS XMP [maybe RMOS or ROS] XMJ WNB CTV XMPYTI HTF YTI WNB XMP [again, note the repeats]. And out.

274 messages (replaced 369 messages a bunch of years ago) are sometimes heard; at least one instance of an "JCS Exercise Global Guardian" EAM was heard in the late 90s during a GLOBAL GUARDIAN exercise; but what is unusual (to me) is the use of 13200.0. I didn't hear these stations
rolling through the other HFGCS freqs. Has 13200.0 become "special"?

It also confirmed that this is a GLOBAL THUNDER 13 exercise instead of a GLOBAL LIGHTNING 13 exercise presumed to be common at this time of the year.

2110z 28 Oct 12 Post (nuclear) attack battle damage traffic. I've never heard a stated GLASS EYE report during these exercises such as the following until now.

13200.0 was active at 2054z with ANDREWS bcsting a 28-character EAM (VHS7WL).

13200.0 was active at 2107z with (could not make out id) 14 calling SKYMASTER with "GLASS EYE" (spoken) "flash traffic": "FLASH 281930 FLASH KKOFF FLASH 1 FLASH 02 FLASH 7A FLASH FLASH"; then repeated to SKYMASTER and gone. Apparently in the blind with no heard response from any SKYMASTER. [Would that be KOFF?]

2141z 28 Oct 12 13200.0 was active at 2130z with ANDREWS' h+00/h+30 restoral of VHS7WL; VHPPQ7; VH5UNQ.

13200.0 was active at the immediate completion of the ANDREWS' restoral with A**** 15 (sounds like AGROM or AMBER; weak/fair) calling SKYMASTER "on 13200" with "274 message of 20 groups" and then into XQK LID Y?? HTF SNV HTF PNU TQA NGI XMP ??? MKD S?P ?H? XIX MKD WNB HTF YTI XMP, and repeated.

13200.0 was active at 2145z with A**** 14 (maybe AGROM (sounds like) 14) calling SKYMASTER with a 274 message of 28 groups and into DTP SAJ UQG RVO COS WNB YNL EYI TQC XMP ROS XMA WNB YTI HTF YTI XMP MJB SNV GXP WNB CHL MKD XMP IVG ?NB VZR XMP and repeated, and gone. Again, not the repeated groups. They rush through the groups in their transmissions.. Lost the freq to a neighbor's TV at 2153z.

2244z 28 Oct 12 11175.0 was active at 2240z with BROAD BEAM (fair levels here) "standing by for traffic" (x2) and out. H+10/h+40 activity.

2321z 28 Oct 12 11175.0 was active at 2259z with SIGONELLA (fair levels here) with a test count and gone.

11175.0 was active at 2300z with CARPENTER (strong levels here) with the "standing by for traffic" statement (x2) and out.

11175.0 was active at 2304z with BROAD BEAM (fair levels) bcsting a 20-character EAM  (IERZ2T) and simulcasting same on 4724.0 (weak), 8992.0 (good/strong), and 15016.0 (weak). I don't recall ever hearing a player in these nets (at least since the major preamble "split" at 01 Oct 96)
transmitting this preamble series of strings (6/20/variable).

11175.0 was active at 2310z with BROAD BEAM "standing by for traffic" (x2) and out. No restoral string.

11175.0 was active at 2311z with OFFUTT (good levels) bcsting a "DTMF test count" (short count) and gone.

8992.0 was active at 2334z with CARPENTER (strong levels here) bcsting the 20-character EAM (IERZ2T)[VRCYG26WYB7PC2] followed with the "standing by for traffic" statement and out. (That suggests a h+04/h+34 window.)

8992.0 was active at 2337z with (maybe OFFUTT; not paying attention; good levels) bcsting the 20-character EAM IERZ2T but with the reading including the operator saying "item 13 garbled" in both readings of the string. (That would be the "6".)

0003z 29 Oct 12 8992.0 was active at 0000z with SAM WORTH (strong/good levels here) standing by for traffic (x2) and out. CARPENTER's new day callsign.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

61,000 National Guard troops prep for Hurricane Sandy

By Steve Marshall and Air Force Tech. Sgt. John Orrell    National Guard Bureau

ARLINGTON, Va.  – National Guard members and residents along the East Coast prepared today for Hurricane Sandy, which gained strength as it churned toward the eastern seaboard.
The storm was barreling north from the Caribbean and was expected to make landfall early Tuesday near the Delaware coast, then hit two winter weather systems while moving inland, creating the potential for a monster storm, according to the Associated Press.

At least 61,000 National Guard members are on hand, Guard officials said today.

As of 1:30 p.m. EDT today, governors in Connecticut, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, and Virginia and the mayor of Washington D.C., have declared states of emergency.

In Delaware, Gov. Jack Martell advised residents, “Be prepared to leave and be prepared to stay.” Delaware state agencies are planning for the worst, Martell said Friday.

National Guard units in Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Virginia and the District of Columbia are coordinating with authorities in the event Sandy makes landfall as predicted.

North Carolina alone has 10,000 Citizen-Soldiers standing by if needed.

"We are monitoring Hurricane Sandy closely and coordinating with our federal, state and local partners to ensure a coordinated and efficient response," said Gen. Frank J. Grass, chief of the National Guard Bureau. "Units across the National Guard are making the necessary preparations to respond to the needs of any states affected by Hurricane Sandy; rest assured the National Guard is poised and ready to provide proven responders and capabilities."

According to National Weather Service officials, the Category I storm could weaken into a tropical storm before it hits land in the Northeast/New England coast, but it could drop as much as 10 inches of rain along the coast on its northerly trajectory. If it collides with arctic air moving from the north and an early winter storm moving from the west, Sandy could potentially turn into what some weather officials are calling the “perfect storm.”

In Delaware, the 142nd Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron has nurses and med techs already on standby, while the Air Guard is moving all flyable equipment out of the storm’s path over the weekend. The Army Guard will be sheltering helicopters until the storm passes, at which point they can fly into action as needed, Delaware National Guard officials said.

"We are joined in a cooperative effort - to save lives, protect property, and support recovery efforts," Gen. Grass said.

The Department of Defense Prepares for Hurricane Sandy

At the direction of Secretary Panetta, the Department of Defense is taking aggressive steps to support the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and State authorities as Hurricane Sandy moves northward.

With the goal of helping to save lives and property during the storm, the Secretary has agreed with the Governors of Maryland, New Hampshire, New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts and Rhode Island to appoint Dual Status Commanders as the storm approaches.

Dual Status Commanders are authorized to command both Federal and State National Guard forces. This special authority enables them to effectively integrate the defense support operations and capabilities that Governors request. The Secretary is prepared to quickly agree to similar requests from other States.

At the federal level, the Department's disaster preparedness and response efforts support the Department of Homeland Security and FEMA, and rapidly meet the requests for assistance they provide.

United States Northern Command (USNORTHCOM) is placing aviation assets such as light and medium lift helicopters and rescue teams on 24 hour Prepare to Deploy Order status in response to Hurricane Sandy. USNORTHCOM is also providing military installations for FEMA to use to conduct response operations, and is providing specialized planners who will help expedite DoD's response to requests for assistance.

The National Guard Bureau is in close coordination with Adjutants General (TAGs) and their disaster response teams in every East Coast state. These State National Guard organizations are coordinating with their respective state emergency management agencies and FEMA regions.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

US Fleet Forces Sets Sortie Condition Alpha, Ships Getting Underway

A GOES-13 infrared satellite image of Hurricane Sandy provided by the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory (NRL) in Monterey, Calif., shows the storm at approximately 7:00 a.m. EST in the Atlantic Ocean. (U.S. Navy photo/Released)
NORFOLK, Va. (NNS) -- Commander, U.S. Fleet Forces (USFF) ordered all U.S. Navy ships in the Hampton Roads, Va., area to set Sortie Condition Alpha Oct. 26 in preparation for an upcoming sortie as Hurricane Sandy travels up the East Coast.

Adm. Bill Gortney, USFF commander, has directed ships to sortie between this afternoon and early tomorrow morning.

USS Ashland (LSD 48) and USS Carter Hall (LSD 50) will sortie from Joint Expeditionary Base Little Creek-Fort Story in Virginia Beach, Va.

The following ships will sortie from Naval Station Norfolk: USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75), USS Bataan (LHD 5), USS San Antonio (LPD 17), USS Mesa Verde (LPD 19), USS Ashland (LSD 48), USS Carter Hall (LSD 50), USS Leyte Gulf (CG 55), USS Monterey (CG 61), USS Anzio (CG 68), USS Barry (DDG 52), USS Gonzales (DDG 66), USS Mahan (DDG 72), USS Bulkeley (DDG 84), USS Mason (DDG 87), USS Bainbridge (DDG 96), USS Gravely (DDG 107), USS Ross (DDG 71), USS Nicholas (FFG 47), USNS Patuxent (T-AO 201), USNS Medgar Evers (T-AKE 13), USNS William McClean (T-AKE 12).

USS Wasp (LHD 1), USS Taylor (FFG 50) and USNS Kanawha (T-AO 196) are already underway in the USFF Area of Responsibility.

"Based on the current track of the storm, we made the decision to begin to sortie the fleet," said Gortney. "The current timeline allows them enough time to transit safely out of the path of the storm."

The Navy orders a sortie during potentially extreme weather conditions to reduce the risk of significant damage to ships and piers during high winds and seas.

Some ships will not get underway, due to various maintenance availabilities, and are taking extra precautions to avoid potential damage. Commanding officers have a number of options when staying in port, depending on the severity of the weather. Some of these options include adding additional mooring and storm lines, dropping the anchor, and disconnecting shore power cables.

As a precautionary measure, Commander Navy Installations Command ordered all installations in the Hampton Roads area to set Tropical Cyclone Condition Three as Hurricane Sandy is forecast to bring high winds and rain to the Mid-Atlantic coast. Tropical Cyclone Condition Three means destructive winds of greater than 50 knots associated with a tropical system, are expected within 48 hours.

A variety of information is available in support of family readiness during hurricane
season including:

- Navy Family Accountability and Assessment System,, which provides a standardized method for the Navy to account, manage and monitor the recovery process for personnel and their families affected and/or scattered by a wide-spread catastrophic event.

-U.S. Fleet Forces planning preparedness Web site to help families with hurricane and destructive weather planning,

- State of Virginia Emergency Management,, which has many resources for planning and preparing emergency kits, developing evacuation plans and addressing specific special needs for children, the elderly and others.

- Virginia Department of Transportation Hurricane Evacuation Guide,, which provides more detailed information for preparing for a hurricane, hurricane evacuation and public shelters in Virginia.

Ballistic Missile Defense System Successfully Conducts Largest Missile Defense Flight Test in History

MECK ISLAND, Republic of the Marshall Islands (Oct. 25, 2012) A Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) interceptor missile is launched from Meck Island to intercept a ballistic missile target during a Missile Defense Agency integrated flight test. Americas Sailors are Warfighters, a fast and flexible force deployed worldwide. Join the conversation on social media using #warfighting. (U.S. Navy photo/Released)

PEARL HARBOR, Hawaii (NNS) -- The Missile Defense Agency (MDA) successfully conducted the largest, most complex missile defense flight test ever attempted, Oct. 24.

MDA, Soldiers from the 94th and 32nd Army Air and Missile Defense Command (AAMDC); Sailors aboard USS Fitzgerald (DDG 62); and Airmen from the 613th Air and Space Operations Center conducted test, resulting in the simultaneous engagement of five ballistic missile and cruise missile targets.

An integrated air and ballistic missile defense architecture used multiple sensors and missile
defense systems to engage multiple targets at the same time. All targets were successfully launched and initial indications are that the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system successfully intercepted its first medium-range ballistic target in history, and Patriot Advanced Capability-3 (PAC-3) near simultaneously destroyed a short-range ballistic missile and a low flying cruise missile target over water.

The live-fire demonstration, conducted at U.S. Army Kwajalein Atoll/Reagan Test Site, Hickam Air Force Base, and surrounding areas in the western Pacific, stressed the performance of the Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense (BMD), THAAD, and Patriot weapon systems.

An Extended Long Range Air Launch Target (E-LRALT) missile was air-dropped over the broad ocean area north of Wake Island from a U.S. Air Force C-17 aircraft, staged from Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii. The AN/TPY-2 X-band radar, located with the THAAD system on Meck Island, tracked the E-LRALT and a THAAD interceptor successfully intercepted the medium-range ballistic missile. THAAD was operated by Soldiers from the 32nd AAMDC.

Another short-range ballistic missile was launched from a mobile launch platform located in the broad ocean area northeast of Kwajalein Atoll. The Patriot system, manned by Soldiers of the 94th AAMDC, detected, tracked and successfully intercepted the target with a PAC-3 interceptor.

USS Fitzgerald successfully engaged a low flying cruise missile over water. The Aegis system also tracked and launched an SM-3 Block 1A interceptor against a short-range ballistic missile. However, despite indication of a nominal flight of the SM-3 Block 1A interceptor, there was no indication of an intercept of the SRBM.

FTI-01 was a combined developmental and operational test. Soldiers, Sailors, and Airmen from multiple Combatant Commands operated the systems and were provided a unique opportunity to refine operational doctrine and tactics. Program officials continue to assess and evaluate system performance based upon telemetry and other data obtained during the test.

Ballistic Missile Defense System programs have completed 56 successful hit-to-kill intercepts in 71 flight test attempts since 2001.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Truman, CVW-3 Sharpen #Warfighting Skills

By Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Taylor DiMartino, USS Harry S. Truman Public Affairs
USS TRUMAN, At Sea (NNS) -- The aircraft carrier USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75) completed a 24-day underway Oct. 25 that tested the skills of every Sailor and Marine aboard.

For the first time in almost two years, Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 3 Sailors and Marines embarked Truman prior to Truman's Oct. 2 underway to prepare for Harry S.
Truman Strike Group's upcoming deployment.

Capt. Mike Wallace, CVW-3's commander, said Truman's underway gave the air wing an opportunity to test and improve various skills across each of its squadrons.
Including a focus on the timeliness of launches and recoveries, Wallace said increased attention was placed on flight operations such as airborne refueling and individual unit-level training.

"This is the first time the ship and air wing have operated together as a team since December 2010," said Wallace. "This underway included a high number of cyclic operations. We were launching and recovering aircraft for 12 hours at a time, refining the pilots' skills as they took off and landed on the carrier."

In total, CVW-3 pilots completed more than 1,300 launches and recoveries even as Truman Sailors and CVW-3 personnel participated in a multitude of shipboard training scenarios, both on the flight deck and in the hangar bay.

"The most noticeable part of our integration was that our Sailors and Marines were making flight operations look easy every time," said Cmdr. Paul Crump, Truman's air officer. "While working on the flight deck, there are so many variables, so many things that can happen, yet each launch and recovery was executed safely, quickly, and effectively."

Crump said the carrier's underway consisted of seamless teamwork between Truman's air department Sailors and CVW-3 as they conducted drills that simulated aircraft crashes and fires, barricade drills and mass casualty drills on the flight deck.

"CVW-3 Sailors have been enthusiastic, motivated and willing partners in every way," said Crump. "It's great to see how far this team has come in only a single underway. As we moved on to more complicated operations, CVW-3 and air department Sailors were performing with practiced regularity. The flight deck and hangar bays have evolved to pro-active environments rather than reactive ones."

Wallace agreed, noting the professionalism every Sailor and Marine displayed while conducting air operations.

"This has given us the chance to practice critical skills that we will have to demonstrate during actual missions while on deployment," said Wallace. "It's all about refining our proficiencies. We can't build upon the complexity of our mission execution until we have a solid foundation."

According to Wallace, the foundation could not have been built without the help of every Sailor and Marine aboard Truman.

"I could not be happier with the team we have built within Harry S. Truman Strike group," said Wallace. "We tell ourselves every day how blessed we are to have great people who get along and work hard together and truly understand that it's a team sport."

After disembarking, CVW-3 is scheduled to conduct advanced tactical training in Fallon, Nev., until mid-December.

Truman is scheduled to continue training in preparation for an upcoming composite training unit exercise.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Last T-AKE Class Ship Accepted by Military Sealift Command

By Sarah Burford, Military Sealift Command Pacific Public Affairs
SAN DIEGO (NNS) -- Military Sealift Command accepted delivery of its newest dry cargo/ammunition ship, USNS Cesar Chavez (T-AKE 14), during a short ceremony at the General Dynamics NASSCO Ship Yard San Diego, Oct. 24.

The ship, which was christened May 5 in San Diego, honors Cesar Chavez, an American farm worker, labor leader and civil rights activist who co-founded the National Farm Workers Association, which later became the United Farm Workers. He is well known for his use of non-violent tactics that made the farm workers' struggle a moral cause with nationwide support.

"This is an historic day for Military Sealift Command, as we accept into our fleet the last ship in the T-AKE program," said Capt. Sylvester Moore, commander, Military Sealift Command Pacific. "Like the 13 ships that came before it, USNS Cesar Chavez will be an important component in support of the United States Navy ships and missions around the world. Whether we are supporting an aircraft carrier or transporting humanitarian assistance and disaster relief supplies, the T-AKEs and all MSC underway replenishment ships bring to life the motto: MSC delivers," he said.

With a crew of 125 civil service mariners working for MSC and 11 U.S. Navy Sailors who provide operational support and supply coordination, the 689-foot long Chavez is the 14th and final of the dry cargo/ammunition ships and is slated for use by MSC's Combat Logistics Force, or CLF.

CLF ships deliver ammunition, food, fuel and other supplies to U.S. and allied ships at sea, enabling the Navy to maintain a worldwide forward presence. The first 11 dry cargo/ammunition ships are currently operating as part of MSC's Combat Logistics Force,
delivering vital fuel, equipment and supplies to Navy warships at sea. The remaining three ships the T-AKE class are expected to be assigned to maritime prepositioning squadrons, which strategically place combat cargo at sea for rapid delivery to warfighters ashore.

"The delivery of Chavez marks a significant milestone for MSC - we are now at full capacity with our dry-cargo and ammunition ships and stand ready to support a wide-range of Department of Defense requirements," said Rear Adm. Mark Buzby, commander, Military Sealift Command. "The T-AKEs, and the professional mariners who operate them, are a true testament to MSC's ability to operate forward and provide an unprecedented level of service and support to our warfighters worldwide," he said.

T-AKEs are the newest class of Combat Logistics Force ships built for MSC. They replace MSC's aging, single-mission supply ships such as Kilauea-class ammunition ships and Mars- and Sirius-class combat stores ships as they reach the end of their service lives.

MSC operates approximately 110 non-combatant, civilian-crewed ships that replenish U.S. Navy ships, conduct specialized missions, and strategically preposition combat cargo at sea around the world and move military cargo and supplies used by deployed U.S. forces and coalition partners.

National Guard will bolster inauguration with more than 6,000 Airmen and Soldiers

WASHINGTON  - The District of Columbia National Guard is well underway in the planning for the 2013 Presidential Inauguration. More than 6,000 National Guard airmen and soldiers from at least 11 states and two territories are expected to provide critical support to include crowd management, traffic control, communications, emergency services and ceremonial duties. “The National Guard is home to a wide variety of capabilities, which can seamlessly integrate with our inter-agency partners for the inauguration,” said Maj. Gen. Errol R. Schwartz, Commanding General, District of Columbia National Guard. “We are proud to support the peaceful transition of power and ensure safety and the well-being of our fellow Americans during this nationally symbolic event.”

In addition to supporting local law enforcement with crowd management and traffic control, the National Guard will provide mission critical capabilities including medevac support, chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear and explosive detection and 24/7 F-16 fighter alert over the National Capital Region.

Military involvement in the Presidential Inauguration dates back to April 30, 1789, when members of the U.S. Army, National Guard, and revolutionary war veterans escorted George Washington to his first inauguration ceremony.

The D.C. National Guard has participated in every inauguration since the 1861 Abraham Lincoln inauguration, where President Lincoln received his first salute from a D.C. Guardsman.

Military support to the inauguration honors the commander in chief, recognizes civilian control of the military and celebrates democracy.

Navy to Christen Submarine Minnesota

The Navy will christen its newest attack submarine Minnesota, Saturday, Oct. 27, during a 10 a.m. EDT ceremony at Newport News Shipbuilding, a division of Huntington Ingalls Industries, in Newport News, Va.
Adm. Kirk Donald, Director of Naval Nuclear Propulsion, will deliver the ceremony's principal address. Ellen Roughead, wife of former Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Gary Roughead and a Minnesota native, will serve as ship's sponsor and break a champagne bottle against a plate welded to the hull, and officially christen the ship 'Minnesota.'

Minnesota, the 10th ship of the Virginia class is named in honor of the state's citizens and their continued support to our nation's military. Minnesota has a long tradition of honoring its veterans of wars past and present. The state is proud to be home to 46 Medal of Honor recipients that span from the Civil War to the Vietnam War.

"There is a special relationship between a state and its namesake ship," said Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus. "Naming this submarine Minnesota not only salutes the proud history of military support and contributions made by the people of Minnesota, but will also serve as a testament to the U.S. Navy's enduring bond with the great state of Minnesota for decades to come."

This will be the third ship to bear the state name. The first USS Minnesota, a sailing steam frigate, was commissioned in 1857 and served during the Civil War, remaining in service until her decommissioning in 1898. The second Minnesota was commissioned in 1907. On Dec. 16, 1907 she departed Hampton Roads as one of the 16 battleships of the Great White Fleet sent by then-President Theodore Roosevelt on a voyage around the world. She continued her service through World War I, and was decommissioned in 1921.

Minnesota will provide the Navy with the capabilities required to maintain the nation's undersea supremacy well into the 21st century. She will have improved stealth, sophisticated surveillance capabilities and special warfare enhancements that will enable her to meet the Navy's multi-mission requirements.

Designated SSN 783, Minnesota is built to excel in anti-submarine warfare; anti-ship warfare; strike warfare; special operations; intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance; irregular warfare; and mine warfare missions. Capable of operating in both the world's shallow littoral regions and deep waters, Minnesota will directly enable five of the six Navy maritime strategy core capabilities - sea control, power projection, forward presence, maritime security, and deterrence.

The 7,800-ton Minnesota is built under a teaming arrangement between General Dynamics Electric Boat and Huntington Ingalls Industries. A crew of approximately 134 officers and enlisted personnel will operate the 377-foot long, 34-foot beam vessel, which will be able to dive to depths of greater than 800 feet and operate at speeds in excess of 25 knots submerged. Minnesota is designed with a nuclear reactor plant that will not require refueling during the planned life of the ship - reducing lifecycle costs while increasing underway time.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

#Warfighting: Bonhomme Richard ARG, 31st MEU Complete PHIBLEX

Landing Craft Air Cushion (LCAC) 29 prepares to enter the well deck of the amphibious assault ship USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD 6). Bonhomme Richard recently completed Amphibious Landing Exercise, an annual bilateral exercise designed to improve interoperability, increase readiness and develop professional and personal relationships between U.S. forces and the Armed Forces of the Philippines. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Michael Russell/Released)

By Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Karen Blankenship, Amphibious Squadron 11 Public Affairs
SUBIC BAY, Philippines (NNS) -- The Bonhomme Richard Amphibious Ready Group (ARG) and embarked Marines from the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) departed from Subic Bay, Philippines Oct. 20 after completing the Amphibious Landing Exercise (PHIBLEX).

PHIBLEX is an annual bilateral exercise held in conjunction with the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and is designed to improve interoperability, increase readiness and develop professional and personal relationships between U.S. and Philippine forces.

"Our historical relationship with the Republic of the Philippines is important," said Lt. Col. Troy Roesti, executive officer of the 31st MEU. "The resounding success of PHIBLEX 13 served to strengthen and reinforce the bonds of friendship and cooperation between our two countries."

PHIBLEX lasted 10 days and was conducted at sea and ashore in the Republic of the Philippines. The bilateral training covered many different aspects of military operations, including humanitarian assistance and disaster relief missions and combined arms live-fire exercises.

"The value of this partnered training is immeasurable," said Roesti. "The resounding success, camaraderie and esprit de corps experienced during PHIBLEX 13 will serve as a benchmark for future exercises and training opportunities with our friends in the Philippines."

Marines and Sailors from the 31st MEU also visited five schools in Margulo, Magsaysay and Puerta Princesa. During these visits service members helped clean the schools by removing weeds and brush and by picking up trash. They also had the chance to interact with the children at the schools by playing games and talking with them.

"Getting to interact with the Filipino children goes beyond just playing games with them," said Lance Cpl. Cameron Wright, a heavy equipment operator with the 31st MEU. "They'll remember our visits and the various medical and engineering projects we've done with them, which all goes toward fostering a stronger relationship that goes beyond military-to-military training. These are lifelong bonds for the future."

Exercises like PHIBLEX help strengthen the ties between the U.S. and its partners and allies in the Pacific region.

"The partnered training during this exercise allowed U.S. Marines and Sailors, alongside Republic of the Philippine marines, sailors, soldiers and airmen, to teach and learn from each other, practice newly acquired skills and then demonstrate their unique capabilities," said Roesti. "The Marines and Sailors of the 31st MEU leave PHIBLEX 13 better trained and with memories that will not be forgotten."

The Bonhomme Richard ARG, commanded by Capt. Cathal S. O'Connor, is comprised of amphibious assault ship USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD 6), amphibious dock landing ship USS Tortuga (LSD 46) and amphibious transport dock ship USS Denver (LPD 9) and is currently operating in the 7th Fleet Area of Responsibility.

Monday, October 22, 2012

N/MC MARS using 1950s era encryption for OTA traffic

Well, within a minute or two I have the answer to the N/MC MARS encryption method. Oh lordy, I forgot to sign the super secret handshake before I posted this. Tin foil hat in hand see CHNAVMARCORMARS message below dated 10-4-2012:

R 041200Z OCT 2012

The MARS Folks Get Stranger and Stranger

Just when you thought it was safe to ditch the tin foil hat, the Navy/MC MARS nets have stepped up to the plate with a new super secret squirrel method of operation (encypting message text). Here is an interesting intercept monitoring by our good friend Gray Ghost. Anyone have any ideas on what method these guys are using to encrpt their text?

Net: Navy/MC Region 4 Tennessee MARS 4H2B net Freq: 4038.5 USB
Mode: MT63 / 1K
TOI: 220103Z Oct 12


R 212122Z OCT 2012
GR 83

Net: Navy/MC Region 4 MARS 4X9B net
Freq: 3390.0 USM
Mode: MT63 / 1K
TOI: 210108Z Oct 12

R 182238Z OCT 2012
GR 48

Eglin begins AFMC exercise

 EGLIN AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. -- Eglin begins participating in the Air Force Materiel Command's Exercise Global Thunder/Vigilant Shield 13 from Oct. 22 - 26. During this period, the installation might experience some delays or short closures in areas due to exercise requirements. The installation will try to keep impacts to an absolute minimum.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Russian military reported on several successful combat training launches of strategic missiles

Смотрите оригинал материала на

So, with the cosmodrome "Plesetsk" launched intercontinental missile "Topol". As noted in the military, she was struck by the high degree of accuracy in the Kamchatka conditional target range "Kura". Another ballistic - was launched from a nuclear submarine Pacific Fleet "Saint George". The aim was also affected.

Successful cruise missiles and had shot the famous Tu-160 and Tu-95 MS. While crews spent in the air for about 15 hours.

The Defense Ministry said that these launches have confirmed the reliability of the strategic triad of Russia - SRF, nuclear missile submarines and missile range aircraft.

A bit more info and a translation

From our old friend the Old Crow on the UDXF group:

Following information is noted on Russian MOD website dated 20 October 2012. It adds a little more to the story unfolding concerning activities by the Strategic Triad of the Russian Armed Forces. Which activity - or at least the Strategic Air Forces part of it - was reflected in the collection of morse communications by a number of UDXF monitors. The additional information apparently reveals that the Russians themselves used one of the Cruise Missiles launched by a Ehngel's-based TU95MS (Bear H) located some 800 Km away as a target for 2 SAMs fired by an Air-Defence PANTsIR' "C" located on the PEMBA Range. The ALCM was said to have been destroyed.


The active phase of combat training operations within the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation is bringing to an end the Summer training period and the 2012 training year.
On the 19 October, on the PEMBA range - situated within the Republic of KOMI, the capability of the newest Anti-Air Missile/Gun Complex - the Pantsir'"C" to intercept an actual live Cruise Missile was assessed for the first time. Earlier crew training by the teams  manning this newest complex being delivered to our army had been limited to the use of training version imitation Cruise Missile targets.
The launch of the Cruise Missile was accomplished by the crew of a Long Range Aviation TU-95MS bomber against a target which was located at a distance of 800 Km. The combat team of the Anti-Air Missile/Gun Complex Pantsir"C" successfully complied with the assigned mission and, not allowing the destruction of the target under their protection, destroyed the target (ie. the ALCM) using two AA missiles.
For several days prior to this event, personnel and equipment from Air/Space Defence Units were transported over several thousand Km into the PEMBA Range area by aircraft of Military Transport Aviation forces (VTA). They carried out further moves under their own resources - moving themselves several kilometres as part of the training. The combat teams and their vehicles assumed the duty of protecting a "dummy" administrative object. The actual protected object was the administrative building serving the Range area.
This training, carried out at the northern PEMBA Range has confirmed the high-level tactical-technical characteristics of the newest complex and the level of training of the complex
combat teams...

Putin Flexes Muscle on Nukes

MOSCOW (Reuters) - President Vladimir Putin took a leading role in the latest tests of Russia's strategic nuclear arsenal, the most comprehensive since the 1991 Soviet collapse, the Kremlin said on Saturday.

The exercises, held mostly on Friday, featured prominently in news reports on state television which seemed aimed to show Russians and the world that Putin is the hands-on chief of a resurgent power.

Tests involving command systems and all three components of the nuclear "triad" - land and sea-launched long-range nuclear missiles and strategic bombers - were conducted "under the personal leadership of Vladimir Putin", the Kremlin said.

An RS-12M Topol Intercontinental Ballistic Missile was launched from the Plesetsk site in northern Russia, and a submarine test-launched another ICBM from the Sea of Okhotsk, the Defence Ministry said.

Long-range Tu-95 and Tu-160 bombers fired four guided missiles that hit their targets on a testing range in the northwestern Komi region, it said.

"Exercises of the strategic nuclear forces were conducted on such a scale for the first time in the modern history of Russia," the Kremlin statement said.

The exercises included tests of communications systems and "new algorithms" for command and control, it said.

Read the entire Reuters story by clicking here

Friday, October 19, 2012

Forth Worth Arrives in San Diego: Maiden Voyage Complete

By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class (SW/AW) Rosalie Garcia, Naval Surface Force, U.S. Pacific Fleet Public Affairs
SAN DIEGO (NNS) -- The Freedom-class littoral combat ship USS Fort Worth (LCS 3) arrived in San Diego Oct. 18, completing the ship's maiden voyage to her homeport.

The ship, named for Fort Worth, Texas, the 17th largest city in the United States and the 5th largest city in Texas, was built in Marinette, Wis., and was commissioned in Galveston, Texas, Sept 22.

After commissioning, Fort Worth departed Galveston and steamed through the Gulf of Mexico, Caribbean Sea and Panama Canal into the Pacific Ocean, completing more than 11,000 miles on her maiden voyage.

Fort Worth Blue Crew Commanding Officer Cmdr. Randy Blankenship, said the blue crew, teamed with the Anti-Submarine Warfare Mission Package crew members, is excited to be reuniting with their families as they deliver the ship to the San Diego fleet.

"Our Sailors have done an amazing job operating this ship for the very first time and flawlessly executing so many challenging evolutions with absolute professionalism and pride," said Blankenship. "I am exceptionally proud of the effort this team has put forth, and they deserve full and unique recognition for this accomplishment."

Fort Worth is outfitted with reconfigurable mission packages, which can be changed out quickly, and focus on three mission areas: mine countermeasures, surface warfare and anti-submarine warfare.

"This is definitely a ship that 20 years from now, we will invent a weapon or capability that we haven't even thought of that will be able to go on the ship because of how the ship has been designed to carry a payload," said Commander, Naval Surface Force, U.S. Pacific Fleet, Vice Adm. Tom Copeman. "The ship is a different way of how we've designed to deliver combat capabilities to the fleet."

Fort Worth is 390 feet in length, with a steel mono hull, aluminum structure and is the third littoral combat ship in the fleet. It has a displacement of approximately 3,000 metric tons fully loaded, is capable of speeds in excess of 40 knots, and can operate in water less than 20-feet deep. Propelled by four water jets in addition to two diesel and two gas turbine engines, the ship boasts a range of over 3,500 nautical miles.

#Warfighting: USS Nimitz, CSG 11 begins Composite Training Unit Exercise

By Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class (SW) Carla Ocampo, USS Nimitz Public Affairs
USS NIMITZ, At Sea (NNS) -- USS Nimitz (CVN 68), Carrier Strike Group (CSG) 11 and embarked Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 11 began Composite Training Unit Exercise (COMPTUEX) Oct. 17.

COMPTUEX is an 18-day exercise required for each CSG, and designed to drill every warfare area including sub surface, surface and air, to practice responses to situations that may occur on deployment.

Embarked Strike Force Training Pacific evaluators will test the CSG on its integrated operational capabilities through a series of simulations.

This is the first time the strike group has worked together since Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC).

"It's unusual that we have done some integrated training," said Cmdr. Larry Sidbury, Nimitz operations officer. "We had the opportunity to work together in RIMPAC where the whole CSG participated. During a normal turnaround cycle we would not have gotten an opportunity."

COMPTUEX is broken up into phases. Phase one provides a detailed schedule of events (SOE) and specific task training for CSG and warfare commanders. Phase two consists of real-world exercises and no SOE.

"No doubt each of these phases will challenge our ability to effectively manage and employ our limited resources," said Rear Adm. Peter Gumataotao, commander, CSG 11. "We need to embrace a fundamental mindset shift from training to certification."

Nimitz will simulate a straits transit with other ships from the strike group, participate in replenishments at sea, vertical replenishments, and run many general quarters drills.

"It's going to be a busy time because we're going to get exposed to every mission area in such a condensed amount of time," said Sidbury. "With the amount of work that needs to be accomplished during this time, I think it's going to push people to a fairly high OPTEMPO [operations tempo]."

Unit specific training will allow the separate strike group assets to practice their roles individually, while other situations will test the strike group's ability to react as a single force.

"Give 100 percent because the next time we sail, we may be standing in harm's way," said Gumataotao. "Execute as you have diligently trained for this moment and continue to make me proud."

After successful completion of COMPTUEX, Nimitz and the rest of the CSG will move on to the final exam, joint task force exercise, preparing Nimitz for her 2013 deployment.

CSG 11 is made up of Nimitz, CVW-11, guided-missile cruiser USS Princeton (CG 5), and Destroyer Squadron 23; guided-missile destroyers USS Higgins (DDG 76), USS Shoup (DDG 86), USS Stockdale (DDG 106) and USS William P. Lawrence (DDG 110).

Navy to Christen Amphibious Assault Ship America

WASHINGTON (NNS) -- The Navy will christen the amphibious assault ship, America (LHA 6), Oct. 20, during a 10 a.m. CDT ceremony in Pascagoula, Miss.

The Commandant of the Marine Corps Gen. James F. Amos will deliver the ceremony's principal address. Mrs. Lynne Pace, wife of former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Peter Pace, will serve as the ship's sponsor.

From the American Revolution through the first Gulf War, three warships have sailed with the name America. The first America was a 74-gun ship-of-the-line built for use by the Continental Navy and then presented to the king of France as a gift to show appreciation for his country's service to the new nation. The second America transported troops during World War I. The third ship to bear the name was a Kitty-Hawk class aircraft carrier that supported operations from the Vietnam War through Operation Desert Storm. America will be the fourth U.S. Navy ship to bear this name.

"The LHA 6 will inherit and continue the proud tradition of distinguished service that has long been associated with ships bearing the name America," said Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus. "For decades to come, the America Class will give sailors and Marines highly capable, flexible and advanced platforms for executing the complete spectrum of operations."

The future USS America will be the first ship of its class, replacing the Tawara class of amphibious assault ships. As the next generation "big-deck" amphibious ship, LHA 6 will be optimized for aviation, capable of supporting current and future aircraft such as the tilt-rotor MV-22 Osprey and Joint Strike Fighter. The LHA 6 will use the same gas turbine propulsion plant, zonal electrical distribution system, and electric auxiliary system built for USS Makin Island (LHD 8). This unique auxiliary propulsion system is designed for fuel efficiency.

The LHA 6 will provide a flexible, multi-mission platform with capabilities that span the range of military operations -- from forward deployed crisis response to forcible entry operations. The ship also will provide forward presence and power projection as an integral part of joint, interagency and multinational maritime expeditionary forces.

The America will operate for sustained periods in transit to, and operations, in an amphibious objective area to include: embarking, transporting, controlling, inserting, sustaining and extracting elements of a marine air-ground task force, and supporting forces by helicopters and tilt rotors supported by Joint Strike Fighters F-35B.

Although the America will not include a well deck, the ship includes additional aviation spaces and will have an increased aviation capacity: enlarged hangar deck, realignment and expansion of the aviation maintenance facilities, a significant increase in available stowage for parts and support equipment, and increased aviation fuel capacity.

The ship's keel was laid July 17, 2009, and the shipbuilder plans to deliver the America in late 2013. The USS America will be homeported in San Diego.

Built by Ingalls Shipbuilding, a division of Huntington Ingalls Industries in Pascagoula, Miss., the ship will be 844 feet in length, with a 106-foot beam, and have a displacement of approximately 44,971 long tons.

#Warfighting: John C. Stennis Strike Group Enters US 5th Fleet

JOHN C. STENNIS, At Sea (NNS) -- The John C. Stennis Carrier Strike Group (JCSSG), entered the U.S. 5th Fleet Area of Responsibility (AOR), Oct. 17.

The JCSSG takes the place of the Enterprise Carrier Strike Group, which departed U.S. 5th Fleet AOR to return to the United States where flagship USS Enterprise (CVN 65) will be deactivated after more than 50 years of service.

"We're looking forward to working with our partner nations and ensuring the vital sea lanes of this region remain free for all maritime traffic," said Rear Adm. Chuck Gaouette, commander, JCSSG. "We have trained for a wide variety of contingencies, from supporting coalition ground troops in Afghanistan to conducting humanitarian assistance operations, and I'm confident this strike group will accomplish any mission that we are asked to execute."

JCSSG deployed four months ahead of schedule, to support combatant commander requirements for U.S. assets in the region.

While en route to 5th Fleet, the JCSSG conducted integrated training within the strike group, as well as combined operations in the U.S. 7th Fleet with the George Washington Carrier Strike Group. The JCSSG also had two port visits in 7th Fleet, Sepangar, Malaysia and Phuket, Thailand.

The JCSSG consists of the aircraft carrier USS John. C. Stennis (CVN 74), Carrier Air Wing 9, Destroyer Squadron 21 and guided-missile cruiser USS Mobile Bay (CG 53). 

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Fentress Reopens After Yearlong Upgrade

Blog Editor Note: The only known frequency I have for Fentress is 269.800 MHz.

By Tom Kreidel, Naval Facilities Engineering Command Mid-Atlantic Public Affairs
CHESAPEAKE, Va. (NNS) -- Naval Auxiliary Landing Field Fentress reopened with a traditional ribbon-cutting ceremony Oct. 16 in a ceremony attended by both the mayors of Chesapeake and Virginia Beach Va.

The $19.2 million project was awarded September, moving Field Carrier Landing Practice (FCLP) to other bases, primarily Naval Air Station Oceana since January of this year.

"We're happy to welcome everyone to the new and improved Fentress," said Capt Bob Geis, NAS Oceana commanding officer. "These improvements will make both Oceana and Fentress operationally viable for many years to come."

The project included laying down a completely new concrete runway and many other improvements such as LED style lighting for the runways and taxiways along with upgrades to the electrical, mechanical and communications systems, and landing signal officer (LSO) shacks that will provide improved visibility for LSOs to observe aircraft approaches and landings.

The new shacks will be more similar in placement and design to those on actual carrier decks improving safety and realism of training for both aircrafts and crews. In addition, there will be new hold areas that will allow for heavy aircraft to turn and helicopter spot markings that will expand the versatility of the landing field.

The design for the project was performed by the Naval Facilities Engineering Command Mid-Atlantic, who also oversaw construction of the project by Lane Construction of Cheshire, Conn.

"This project was a major undertaking in scope, complexity and timeliness," said Capt. Paul Odenthal, NAVFAC Mid-Atlantic executive officer. "We are pleased to deliver this one of a kind facility to Oceana."

NALF Fentress began operations later in the afternoon of the ceremony.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

F-35: Newest fighter much more than just 'stealthy plane'

by Marine Corps Cpl. Daniel Wetzel, Defense Media Activity

 EGLIN AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. (AFNS) -- The engines roared overhead as an F-35A fell into formation. Although this is a basic maneuver for the test pilots, the possibilities for combat environments created by these elite aircraft working together are anything but mundane.

The F-35, which features three variants to be used by the Air Force, Marine Corps and Navy, is a single-seat aircraft capable of stealthy operations, equipped with an enhanced computer technology system. The Marine Corps B variant is also capable of performing short takeoffs and vertical-landings while maintaining the conventional operations of other airplanes.

The F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter program started in 1997. The program includes plans to replace the Air Force's aging F-16 Fighting Falcon and A-10 Thunderbolt II, the Marine Corps' short takeoff, vertical landing AV-8B Harrier and dogfighting and air-to-ground attacking F/A-18 Hornet and the Navy's stock of legacy Hornets.

"The F-35 is a fifth-generation fighter; but it's more than just a stealthy airplane," said Marine Corps Col. Art Tomassetti, a pilot who has been with the JSF program since 1998. "It goes beyond stealth and low observable capability. It brings together everything that today's computer and digital age can bring to how the airplane flies and how it's maintained."

The F-35 is an ideal combination of stealth, sensor fusion and a robust digital flight control system making it, not only easy for a pilot to fly, but easy to identify and engage targets in the battlespace. Along with ease of flight, the F-35 also allows pilots greater situational awareness.

"When you look at the F-35, you can't look at it as a single airplane against another single airplane," Tomassetti said. "You have to look at a group of F-35s working together, then you really get to take advantage of what the F-35 brings to the battle space. The ability of the airplanes to use a variety of sensors to gather information and share the information they gather between planes is truly incredible."

With the F-35, pilots can access information about possible targets and threats from supporting F-35 aircraft via data links, which allows them to see more and identify more of what is happening in the battle space, Tomassetti said.

Currently, the military is only training seasoned pilots on the new airplane at Eglin Air Force Base.

When new pilots are allowed into the program, they will find themselves in a unique training environment along with enlisted aircraft maintainers and mechanics from all three branches of service and also coalition partners from several foreign nations.

These service members will learn how to operate and maintain the F-35 through a digital training environment. This kinetic learning system allows the learning to occur through touching and doing, rather than seeing and hearing.

"The fact that we're starting with the same airframe, same formations, same weapons capabilities, I think that already puts us at a better starting point when we show up to a combat theater together," said Lt. Col. Lee Kloos, squadron commander for the 58th Fighter Squadron, of the integration of forces with the F-35.

Kloos, who has more 2,100 hours flying the F-16, said having the Air Force, Marine Corps and Navy field the same airframe allows a common frame of reference for pilots regardless of service.

The aircraft is also a joy to fly, Kloos said. Despite the advanced technology and complexity of the aircraft, it's a very easy aircraft to fly, and basic pilot actions remain the same as in any fighter aircraft.

"Pull back on the stick and the trees get smaller, push forward and the trees get bigger," Kloos said. It is a stable and well-balanced plane designed for today's generation who grew up playing video games, he said.

Comparatively speaking, the F-35 has a clean cockpit. Instead of a multitude of switches inherent of many aircraft, the F-35 has two touch screens with interfaces similar to a tablet computer.

For the maintainers, things are a little tougher.

"I was working on the F-15 C and D models," said Staff Sgt. Matthew Reed, F-35 A maintainer. "The F-35 is a completely different aircraft. The technology is challenging at times."

Since the F-35 is still in operational testing, the maintainers and pilots work through all the bugs together. On a continuous basis, personnel are testing the aircraft in new maneuvers and capabilities. Once these are monitored and assessed, the pilots are cleared to perform them in their daily flight operations.

"Today our training consists of the basics of takeoff, landing, navigation and basic formation as we wait for the flight clearance to expand and allow us to train specific mission sets," Tomassetti said.

Air Force maintainers, the first service members to work on the F-35, use the maintenance side of the computer to do preventative diagnostics and pinpoint possible problems.

With the pilots and maintainers working together, the Air Force and Marine Corps have flown hundreds of training sorties since their first flight in 2011. They continue to fly daily to bring the F-35 A, the Air Force's conventional landing and take-off variant, F-35 B, the Marine Corps' STOVL variant, and F-35 C, the Navy's carrier-based variant, closer to combat operations.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Enterprise Transits the Suez Canal for the Final Time

By Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class (SW) Brian G. Reynolds, Enterprise Carrier Strike Group Public Affairs
The aircraft carrier USS Enterprise (CVN 65) moves through the Suez Canal for the last time. Enterprise was deployed to the U.S. 5th Fleet area of responsibility conducting maritime security operations, theater security cooperation efforts and support missions for Operation Enduring Freedom. The U.S. Navy is reliable, flexible, and ready to respond worldwide on, above, and below the sea. Join the conversation on social media using #warfighting. (U.S. Navy photo by Information Systems Technician 1st Class Stephen Wolff/Released)
USS ENTERPRISE, At Sea (NNS) -- Aircraft carrier USS Enterprise (CVN 65) has been the first to do a lot of things. The "Big E" was the world's first nuclear-powered aircraft carrier and the first carrier to respond to the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

On April 29, 1986, Enterprise did something that no other nuclear-powered carrier had ever done - she transited the Suez Canal, the world's largest man-made canal, adding another first to an already long list of accomplishments.

The 1986 transit brought Enterprise back into the Mediterranean for the first time in 22 years, as she shifted homeports from Alameda, Calif., back to Norfolk, Va., where she was originally commissioned in 1961.

Twenty-six years later, on Oct. 12, the "Big E" passed through the Suez Canal for the final time as she transitioned from the U.S. 5th Fleet area of responsibility (AOR) to U.S. 6th Fleet AOR, entering the Mediterranean Sea for the last time.

The transit marks the beginning of the last leg of the carrier's historic 25th and final deployment, after seven months of operations at sea.

The Suez Canal is a 120-mile long, 79-foot-deep canal that runs through Egypt's Sinai Peninsula, allowing mariners to transit from the Red Sea to the Mediterranean Sea, and vice versa.

Because the canal is so shallow and narrow, the transit puts the skills of even the most seasoned helmsman to the test, as the canal was not originally designed to accommodate ships the size of an aircraft carrier. In fact, the evolution usually takes anywhere from 14-20 hours to complete.

"Planning for this type of evolution starts months out to try to minimize any hiccups," said Chief Quartermaster Craig J. Bowman. "We (Navigation department) lay out the ship's planned track with proposed or planned times to be at certain places. Other departments on the ship take the information we provide and plan when and where they can or can't do evolutions - or when they need to shut off or stop certain services."

Because Enterprise was the first to make the historic journey through the Suez Canal, those involved in its current transit believe that there is a bit of reverence in having the honor to take the "Big E" through "the Ditch" for the final time.

"To bring Enterprise through the Suez Canal for the last time is certainly an honor," said Cmdr. Donald Kennedy, Enterprise's navigator. "For more than 50 years, Big E Sailors have expertly stood the long watches required to navigate Enterprise safely. To be among the last to see her through the Suez Canal will no doubt be one of the most memorable experiences of my career."

Many "Big E" crewmembers agree that it is an honor to be involved with the final cruise and Suez Canal transit of the world's first nuclear-powered aircraft carrier. The cruise marks a milestone in not only their careers, but their lives as well.

"Being involved in the planning of the transit is something that no one can take away from me or anyone else on the Navigation team," said Bowman. "I went through as a QM1 (quartermaster first class) and I am coming out as a QMC (chief quartermaster). Just adding that to the transit makes this that much more memorable for me."

Enterprise is scheduled to return to its homeport of Norfolk at the end of its current deployment to begin its inactivation process after 51 years of service.

New York Air National Guard kicks off Antarctic science support Tuesday

Master Sgt. Carmello Modesto loads equipment sleds destined for the U.S. Antarctic Program's South Pole research station into the back of an LC-130 Hercules. (Defense Department photo)
 STRATTON AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, Scotia, N.Y. - The New York Air National Guard's 109th Airlift Wing kicks off its annual support for the National Science Foundation in Antarctica as ski-equipped LC-130s head for Antarctica on Tuesday and Wednesday.
Two aircraft will depart on the five-day, 11,000- mile trip to Antarctica on each day. A total of six ski-equipped LC-130 aircraft will be on the ice during the October to February period. These aircraft will support the National Science Foundation's research in the Antarctic running supplies and people to field camps across the continent and the South Pole station.

The ski-equipped LC-130s operated by the 109th Airlift Wing are the only aircraft in the United States military capable of landing on snow and ice. This is the 24th year that the 109th will support operations in Antarctica.

The New York Air National Guard's 109th Airlift Wing plays a critical role in supporting National Science Foundation research across Antarctica. About 120 members of the New York Air National Guard will be deployed to Antarctica throughout the support season. The airmen deploy for 30 to 60 days each, working two 12-hour shifts to cover 24-hour operations, six days each week. They work a half-day on Sunday.

Based at the United States Antarctic Program base at McMurdo Station, the 109th is slated to fly more than 350 missions across the continent, with more than half of those moving passengers, cargo and fuel to the South Pole. The majority of supplies that reach the United States Amundsen–Scott Base at the South Pole are ferried there by the 109th Airlift Wing.

Despite the cold, the maintenance crews normally attain a high reliability rate for each aircraft, allowing the flight crews to carry as much cargo as possible to remote Antarctic outposts. The wing accumulates roughly 3,000 hours of flying time in the 16-week season. This is almost as much as most Air National Guard C-130 units fly in a year.

All maintenance performed on the aircraft is done outside on the snow and ice without the use of hangars. This requires maintainers to undergo specialized training for both maintenance procedures and personal extreme weather survival training.

U.S. military support for Operation Deep Freeze is a Pacific Command responsibility organized as Joint Task Force -Support Forces Antarctica. The Joint Task Force includes cargo and fuel tanker ships provided by Military Sealift Command, active-duty and Reserve C-17 support from the 62nd and 446th Airlift Wings at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, the ski-equipped LC-130 Hercules flown by the 109thAirlift Wing of the New York Air National Guard, as well as Coast Guard icebreakers and the Navy Cargo Handling Battalion One to provide critical port services at McMurdo Station.
The airlift part of Operation Deep Freeze operates from two primary locations with C-17s situated at Christchurch, New Zealand, and LC-130 Hercules forward based at McMurdo Station, Antarctica, beginning in late October.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

USS Nimitz: Always Vigilant

By Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Ryan J. Mayes, USS Nimitz Public Affairs
SAN DIEGO (NNS) -- The aircraft carrier USS Nimitz (CVN 68), along with the ships of Carrier Strike Group (CSG) 11, are conducting force protection exercises (FPX) that include similar scenarios built around the terrorist attack on USS Cole (DDG 67).

With what was supposed to be a routine stop for fuel, the USS Cole became a part of naval history when a small boat attack that left a 40 foot by 40 foot gash in the hull of the ship claimed the lives of 17 Sailors and injured 39 more.

This would forever change the Navy's force protection practices and training.

Almost 12 years later to the date, Nimitz and CSG 11 are training to learn from that attack. The lessons learned from that day have transformed how naval security forces prepare and respond to threats while at home and abroad.

"It was clear to me that the responding forces have been practicing their tactics, techniques and procedures," said Rear Adm. Peter Gumataotao, commander CSG 11. "They did a great job at synchronizing their movements, and this illustrates how everything we do now needs to take advantage of the integrated force. As the ship moves into the composite training unit exercise, everything is about integration. It's no longer about one single ship or unit."

In an all-day training event administered by Third Fleet, the forces of CSG 11 responded to multiple scenarios including unauthorized surveillance, rioting crowds, personnel-born improvised explosive devices (IED), small boat attacks and vehicle born IEDs. The FPX is part of a pre-deployment certification that every ship undergoes as it prepares for overseas operations. This particular exercise was modeled after a 5th Fleet area of responsibility.

"This was a fully integrated training effort," said Cmdr. Steven Richards, anti-terrorism force protection officer of CSG 11. "We were tasked to analyze and respond to multiple threats on two different pier facilities with five of our ships. We went beyond what was required for our qualification and certifications."

Realistic training environments are key to the success of the evolutions. Mentally drawing trainees into a scenario with accurate replication ensures they are fully involved and creates a more natural response. Strategic Operations, a San Diego based company, provided the makeup artists, props, costumes and simulated explosives to create the hyper-realistic environment usually found in Hollywood.

"It was a phenomenal training evolution," said Richards. "Even with many of the crew members playing the role of the opposing force, the realism was incredible. This event incorporated a response from not only the security forces but the medical team, damage control team and command and control departments, all of which played an important role."

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Joint Warrior 12-2 Draws to a Close

By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Foster Bamford, Navy Public Affairs Support Element West
USS GETYSBURG, At Sea (NNS) -- Exercise Joint Warrior 12-2 concluded off the coast of Scotland, Oct. 11.

Destroyer Squadron (DESRON) 26 took part in the exercise with guided-missile cruiser USS Gettysburg (CG 64), guided-missile destroyer USS Mitscher (DDG 57) fleet replenishment ship USNS Leroy Grumman (TAO 195), Helicopter Maritime Strike (HSM) 46 Detachment 2 and U.S. maritime support reconnaissance patrol aircraft from Experimental Evaluation Test Squadron (VX) 1, Patrol Squadron (VP) 9 and VP 10.

The biannual exercise, which is the largest military exercise in Europe, began Oct. 1, and was planned by the Joint Tactical Exercise Planning Staff (JTEPS) in the United Kingdom. It is used by the U.K. as their advanced naval certification course and is on par with a U.S. Joint Task Force Exercise (JTFEX), which certifies U.S. ships for deployment.

"We had the opportunity to work with live aircraft, live submarines, live ships, we get to shoot our guns, and we're doing it in a new and different area," said Capt. Bob Hein, Gettysburg's commanding officer. "We lose the home field advantage, but as a commanding officer, I think that's a good thing."

The two-week exercise involved many different scenarios, some of which provided a rare opportunity for the ships involved.

"The exercise is designed to test the skill, knowledge and equipment of the participants in a range of different environments," said Capt. Paul Titterton, director of JTEPS. "By training in this fashion, we are able to prepare for a whole range of potential and ultimately realistic tactical scenarios, from out-and-out warfare to rescuing fishermen captured by pirates."

The U.S. ships participated in simulated missions aimed to test air, surface and subsurface capabilities.

"We conducted anti-air, anti-surface and anti-submarine warfare events and we also did some smaller exercises like NEO (non-combatant evacuation operation) and mine clearance operations," said Capt. Nelson Castro, commander, DESRON 26.

The exercise is intended to test and improve interoperability and to train allies in a maritime environment, where nations can prepare forces for combined operations.

"It has been a great opportunity to test our interoperability and develop common tactics, techniques and procedures," said Castro.

One of the operations taken on by a multinational force was minesweeping.

"Our task group was integrated with the Royal Navy and its minesweepers," said Castro. "The operations were a great opportunity to improve our interoperability and we derived many new procedures to execute missions together."

Another part of the operation included simulated visit, board, search and seizure (VBSS) missions.

"Apart from the cold weather, it was very similar to our normal VBSS training," said Castro. "It provided a different venue with different perspectives brought by the U.K. trainers."

In order to complete all of the missions, extensive planning took place.

"From mid-August through the actual execution date, DESRON 26 did a lot of planning, with JTEPS and then all the other units as well," said Lt. Cmdr. Jason Lautar. "And the planning that took place during Joint Warrior was vital to every mission we did."

The exercise was detail-oriented and included simulated media arriving aboard Gettysburg to interview Hein and Castro.

"The press conference was tough. You had friendly, neutral and aggressive reporters asking very pointed and political questions," said Castro. "We just ensured that we provided facts and tried not to speculate in areas outside of our expertise."

The exercise, which occurs off the coast of Scotland twice a year, provides an opportunity for U.S. Sailors to interact with service members from coalition forces.

"I think it was really successful," said Lautar. "Overall it was great working with all the ships, all the units that participated. The interaction with the LNOs (liaison naval officers), having a British LNO onboard, was outstanding. All in all, I think Joint Warrior went well."

#Warfighting: Washington, Stennis Carrier Strike Groups Operate in Andaman Sea

The Nimitz-class aircraft carriers USS George Washington (CVN 73) and USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74) are underway together in formation. Ships and aircraft of the George Washington and John C. Stennis carrier strike groups are conducting exercises to increase interoperability, readiness, and the capability to respond quickly to various potential crises in the region, ranging from combat operations to humanitarian assistance. The U.S. Navy is constantly deployed to preserve peace, protect commerce, and deter aggression through forward presence. Join the conversation on social media using #warfighting. (U.S. Navy photo by Chief Mass Communication Specialist Jennifer A. Villalovos/Released)
ANDAMAN SEA (NNS) -- The USS George Washington and USS John C. Stennis Carrier Strike Groups (CSGs) steamed together in the Andaman Sea Oct. 12, conducting integrated flight operations while also practicing surface and anti-submarine drills.

Located in the northeast edge of the Indian Ocean, the Andaman Sea narrows to form the Strait of Malacca, one of the most important shipping lanes in the world. Both CSGs have been conducting forward presence operations and port visits in the vital Asia-Pacific region for the past three weeks, but having two aircraft carriers operating together in the Andaman Sea is an unusual opportunity.

"The U.S. Navy routinely conducts dual-aircraft carrier operations in international waters when and where opportunities exist; however, I believe this is the first time it has been done in the Andaman Sea," said Capt. Greg Fenton, USS George Washington's (CVN 73) commanding officer. "These operations are vital in improving interoperability and readiness to respond across the full range of military operations from humanitarian assistance to combat missions."

The two CSGs conducted similar dual-carrier operations in late September near Guam following exercise Valiant Shield.

"Integrated operations are essential to our ability to effectively respond to any threat or crisis in the region," said Rear Adm. Chuck Gaouette, commander of the Stennis CSG. "As the Asia-Pacific region continues to grow in importance, we must ensure we are capable of operating in a complex environment in order to continue to promote peace, cooperation and stability here."

Consisting of more than 10,000 Sailors, 120 aircraft, four escort ships and a supply replenishment ship, both CSGs patrolled the U.S. 7th Fleet area of operations over the last few weeks before conducting highly successful port visits.

USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74) anchored in Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia Sept. 30 for a four-day port visit during which Sailors conducted numerous professional exchanges with the Royal Malaysian Navy (RMN) while also performing community service projects. Stennis then transited the Strait of Malacca and conducted a port visit in Phuket, Thailand. Sailors worked with the Royal Thai Navy, conducted community service events, and took some time to enjoy the local culture and cuisine.

After recently patrolling in the South China Sea, USS George Washington conducted a port visit to Port Klang, Malaysia Oct. 7. Sailors continued advancing partnerships with the RMN by practicing Explosive Ordnance Disposal team training, conducting a medical subject matter exchange, and visiting the RMN's world class National Hydrographic Center in Port Klang.
Both aircraft carriers departed from their respective port visits in preparation for operating together in the Andaman Sea Oct. 12, the day before the U.S. Navy's 237th birthday.

"It seems appropriate that we have two of our 11 aircraft carriers working side-by-side as we celebrate the Navy's birthday," said Cmdr. Shawn Mangrum, Carrier Air Wing 5 operations officer aboard the USS George Washington. "Working with another carrier air wing increases sortie generation and provides a more robust simulated threat environment and more realistic training."

The George Washington CSG is led by Rear Adm. J. R. Haley and consists of his Carrier Strike Group 5 staff, Destroyer Squadron 15, Carrier Air Wing 5, the flagship aircraft carrier USS George Washington, the guided-missile destroyer USS McCampbell (DDG 85) and the frigate USS Vandegrift (FFG 48).

The John C. Stennis CSG is led by Rear Adm. Gaouette and consists of his Carrier Strike Group 3 staff, Destroyer Squadron 21, Carrier Air Wing 9, the flagship aircraft carrier USS John C. Stennis, guided-missile cruiser USS Mobile Bay (CG 53) and guided-missile destroyer USS Paul Hamilton (DDG 60). The group is also joined by the fast combat support ship USNS Bridge (T-AOE-10).

Friday, October 12, 2012

Capital Shield Exercise preps D.C. National Guard for Inauguration

D.C. National Guard members recently participated in training with other agencies to help protect the nation’s capital. (Photo by Sgt. Jesse Searls, D.C. National Guard)
By Sgt. Jesse Searls, District of Columbia National Guard

The District of Columbia National Guard participated in the 2012 Capital Shield Exercise, a training event which emphasizes unity of effort for district and federal agencies operating in the District of Columbia in preparation for events such as the upcoming inauguration.

The D.C. Army National Guard’s 33rd CST, together with the Massachusetts National Guard’s 1st CST, set up their equipment for a section of the training conducted in Southeast Washington.
The western campus of St. Elizabeth’s Hospital, which opened in 1855 as the “Government Hospital for the Insane,” is situated in southeast D.C., south and across the Anacostia River from the D.C. National Guard Armory. The rich and storied history of the institution is palpable as the National Guard members conducted a training scenario based on a possible chemical, biological, radiological or nuclear threat.

The mission of the D.C.ARNG’s 33rd CST is one of paramount importance: made up of 22 highly trained hazmat technicians, it is capable of responding to various untold levels of natural or man-made disasters that could threaten the public safety in the District of Columbia. Training exercises like Capital Shield prepare the soldiers to work with and assist several agencies and departments.
The 33rd works closely with the D.C. Fire Department, Metropolitan Police Department, D.C. Homeland Security and Emergency Management Agency, D.C. Department of Health, and the FBI in a combined effort to protect the public in the event of a weapons of mass destruction attack on our nation’s capital.

Among the training area is a vast array of shuttered, three-story brick buildings. The campus covers more than 100 acres. It’s closed to the public with fencing and gate guards and is confusing to drive around with its tight, twisting roads, adding up to an excellent environment for precise and professional training to take place.

During Capital Shield Exercise at S The 33rd Civil Support Team, District of Columbia National Guard, participates in the 2012 Capital Shield Exercise. (Photo by Sgt. Jesse Searls, D.C. National Guard)t. Elizabeth’s, Sgt. Tanisha Mercado, having just finished an exercise in a heavy, air-tight chemical suit with its own oxygen container, talked about the training that day.

“Staff Sgt. Jason McGuire and I were tasked with performing surveying and recon around a trailer.” Mercado said, as she pointed to a large conex container sitting conspicuously among the historic buildings of St Elizabeth’s. “We took a grab sample, which is when the entire package, container, envelope, or in this case, a propane tank is taken into the lab. Our grab sample turned out to be an improvised dispersal device.”

The 33rd CST has completed two large-scale exercises this year in anticipation of the 2013 Presidential Inauguration to be held Monday, Jan. 21.

I’m proud of the hard work they put in every day,” said 33rd CST’s First Sergeant and senior non-commissioned officer, 1st Sgt. Charles Mick. “We’re ready for anything.”

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

UAVs autonomously refuel in flight during DARPA demo

Two modified RQ-4 Global Hawk unmanned aerial vehicles successfully demonstrated technology that allows unmanned vehicles to be automatically refueled in-flight, an important step in conducting surveillance and combat duties, said the Defense Advanced Research Project Agency on Oct. 5.

Currently global military aviation relies on a key enabler – aerial refueling. Fighters, bombers, reconnaissance and transport aircraft use “flying gas stations” to go the extra mile, it said. Increasingly, it said UAVs are conducting combat and Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) operations, but the aircraft aren’t designed to be refueled in flight.

DARPA said it teamed up with NASA in 2007 to show high-performance aircraft can easily perform automated refueling from conventional tankers, but many unmanned aircraft can’t match the speed, altitude and performance of the current tanker fleet. The 2007 demonstration also required a pilot on board to set conditions and monitor safety during autonomous refueling operations, it said.

On Oct 5, DARPA’s two-year Autonomous High-Altitude Refueling (AHR) program, which concluded Sep. 30, explored the ability to safely conduct fully autonomous refueling of UAVs in challenging high-altitude flight conditions. During its final test flight, two modified Global Hawk aircraft flew in close formation, 100 feet or less between refueling probe and receiver drogue, for the majority of a 2.5-hour engagement at 44,800 feet, said the agency.

The manuever demonstrated for the first time that High Altitude Long Endurance (HALE) class aircraft can safely and autonomously operate under in-flight refueling conditions, it said. The flight was the ninth test and the first time the aircraft flew close enough to measure the full aerodynamic and control interactions, it added. Flight data was analyzed over the past few months and fed back into simulations to verify system safety and performance through contact and fuel transfer–including the effects of turns and gusts up to 20 knots, it said.

According to the agency, since HALE aircraft are designed for endurance at the expense of control authority, the program started with the expectation that only one of six attempts would achieve positive contact (17 percent). The final analysis, however, showed 60 percetn of the attempts would achieve contact, it said. Multiple autonomous breakaway contingencies were successfully triggered well in advance of potentially hazardous conditions, it said. Fuel systems were also fully integrated and ground tested, demonstrating a novel “reverse-flow” approach with the tanker in trail, said DARPA, opening up valuable trade space for future developers to choose between various fixed and modular implementations of proven probe and drogue hardware.

“The goal of this demonstration was to create the expectation that future HALE aircraft will be refueled in flight,” said Jim McCormick, DARPA Program Manager. “Such designs should be more affordable to own and operate across a range of mission profiles than systems built to satisfy the most stressing case without refueling. The lessons from AHR certainly extend beyond the HALE flight regime, and insights into non-traditional tanker concepts may offer further operational advantages.”