Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Aerial Refueling Frequency Update

Over the last few years I have documented in my Monitoring Times Milcom column and here on this blog the fact that a major overhaul is underway of the 225-400 MHz milair band. Part of this massive change in frequencies is due to the conversion of some of the 380-400 MHz frequencies from aero to LMR frequencies. Other changes appear to involve what appears to be several new subbands devoted to wideband communications, ATC freq blocks, Command and Control frequencies, and other changes.

On July 5, DoD released a new edition of their AP-1B pub. There were quite a few frequency changes in AR section of this pub. The biggest change I noticed was that aerial refueling freqs 319.5 and 319.7 MHz were replaced by 256.650 and 343.250 MHz respectively. Not all of the 319.5/319.7 have changed but a significant number have. If your local AR route uses 319.5 or 319.7, you need to plug in the new freqs above or getting ready for them to go silent. They will change very soon.

In the meantime here is a list below of all the new assignments.

233.7250 AR-136V (North/South) Primary; AR-137V (North/South) Primary; AR-135V (North/South) Secondary
235.1000 AR-332 (NE/SW) Primary; AR-112H (East/West) Primary
236.6500 AR-007B Primary; AR-315 (East/West) Secondary
238.5000 AR-135V (North/South) Primary; AR-136V (North/South) Secondary; AR-137V (North/South) Secondary
240.3500 AR-008A Primary; AR-318 (East/West) Primary; AR-633A/B Primary
256.6500 AR-005L (East/West) Primary; AR-006 Primary; AR-001 (East) Secondary; AR-002 (West) Secondary; AR-003L Secondary; AR-007A Secondary; AR-007B Secondary; AR-008A Secondary; AR-008B Secondary; AR-209 (West/East) Secondary; AR-648A/B Secondary
260.2000 AR-041V (North/South) Secondary; AR-112H (East/West) Secondary; AR-112L (East/West) Secondary
265.5000 AR-003H (East/West) Primary
271.6500 AR-003H (East/West) Secondary
274.4500 AR-220 Primary; AR-006 Secondary
278.7500 AR-010 (SE/NW) Primary; AR-302 (East/West) Primary; AR-005L (East/West) Secondary
291.6500 AR-642 (East/West) Primary; AR-659 Primary
292.6000 AR-610A/B Secondary
295.8000 AR-112L (East/West) Primary
297.3000 AR-406L (East/West) Primary; AR-406H (East/West) Secondary
305.5000 AR-219 Primary
324.6000 AR-653 Primary
327.6000 AR-324 Primary; AR-255L (East/West) Primary
342.5500 AR-005H (East/West) Secondary; AR-716 Secondary
343.2500 AR-315 (East/West) Primary; AR-324 Secondary; AR-332 (NE/SW) Secondary; AR-202 (South/North/Alt North) Secondary; AR-216 (NE/SW) Secondary; AR-328 Secondary; AR-617 Secondary; AR-618 Secondary; AR-620 Secondary; AR-633A/B Secondary; AR-638 Secondary; AR-655 Secondary

I will have more of this in a future MT Milcom column.

138-150 MHz DoD Bandplan Changing

Not only is the 225-400 MHz band being overhauled by DoD, but the 138-144/148-150.8 MHz band is also under change. Based on monitoring and other sources, it is now apparent that frequencies within this band are being set aside for certain functions instead of just a particular service.

In years past the frequencies in this band have been allocated to the services, who in turn determine who/what is allocated on each frequency they managed. Now based on recent changes we have monitored and had reported to us that this is no longer the case.

Long time reporter Jack NeSmith has uncovered the changes below through an official source. Old air-to-air (interflight) frequencies: 138.200 138.400 139.900 139.975 141.575 MHz. These frequencies are moving to new VHF AM interflight (air-to-air) frequencies: 141.650 141.950 143.150 143.250 143.700 MHz (AM)

Last year we first reported on this blog that DoD has setup 139.300 MHz (AM) as a VHF Pilot to Dispatch frequency nationwide.

All of the new freqs above should be programmed in your milcom scanner as part of your overall monitoring plan.

More as we compile it.

JTFEX 07-2 Begins

Nimitz-class aircraft carriers USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN 69), USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75) transit in formation with the Royal Navy's Invincible-class aircraft carrier HMS Illustrious (R 06) in the Atlantic Ocean. The three carriers are currently participating in Operation Bold Step where more than 15,000 service members from three countries partake in the Joint Task Force Exercise (JTFX). U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Jay C. Pugh

By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Nathaniel Moger, USS Dwight D. Eisenhower Public Affairs

USS DWIGHT D. EISENHOWER, At Sea (NNS) -- Eisenhower Strike Group, comprised of the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN 69) (Ike), embarked Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 7 and Destroyer Squadron (DESRON) 28, began conducting a Joint Tactical Fleet Exercise (JTFEX) with Harry S. Truman Carrier Strike Group (HSTCSG) and the Royal Navy aircraft carrier HMS Illustrious CSG off the coast of the Eastern Seaboard in the Atlantic Ocean July 25.

JTFEX is an integrated strike group exercise designed to test the capabilities of multiple carrier strike groups operating in a multinational, joint environment. It is the final building block of a carrier workup cycle, designed to mimic real life.

“We treat this like we’re on deployment,” said Cmdr. Matt Baker, Ike’s operations officer.

JTFEX begins as a political problem that will develop into an actual battle. This type of free-form training challenges Eisenhower Strike Group on many different fronts.

“There are a number of different warfare areas that need to integrate,” said Baker. "Air warfare, undersea warfare, surface warfare, information warfare; everyone
is involved.”

“For the DESRON, mission planning and continuous training for our ships are our main areas of focus. JTFEX allows the staff to fine-tune our planning process while our ships maintain their readiness through a robust schedule of events,” said Lt. Cmdr. Albert Seeman, DESRON 28 Combat Systems and Force Protection officer.

This means Ike is not just being tested in warfare areas traditionally associated with a carrier strike group, like strike missions and anti-submarine warfare, but also information and political warfare.

“We will get simulated intelligence and act on it,” said Baker. “Information is power and we dedicate time and thought to protecting it.”

This doesn’t mean all the action is simulated. With three carrier air wings from two nations operating in the same area, the air space will begin to look crowded and poses its own challenges.

“It will require good communication,” said Baker. “We’re looking for synergy between the operations of the three air wings.”

While Truman Strike Group is ramping up for an upcoming deployment, Eisenhower Strike Group recently completed an extended deployment to the 5th Fleet area of operations in support of maritime security operations and Operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom. This means certain elements of Eisenhower Strike Group will be practicing skills they haven’t used in a while.

“JTFEX let’s us maintain the level of readiness we had before we came home,” said Command Master Chief (AW/ SW) Jon Echolls of Strike Fighter Squadron 103, the “Jolly Rogers.”

“It’ll allow us to go through the cyclic flight ops we were performing a couple of months ago in case we’re called away again.”

With its status as the Atlantic Fleet surge-ready aircraft carrier, Ike’s crew faces a challenge steeper than getting ready for deployment; they have to stay at the top of their game.

“It’s not just another opportunity for us to show we know what we’re doing,” said Baker. “Coming off deployment - we were operating at our highest level of readiness. Now we’re looking to stay up there.”

Ike is currently underway conducting JTFEX 07-2 off the coast of North Carolina and Florida with USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75).

Kitty Hawk F/A-18C Aircraft Lost, Pilot Safely Recovered

USS KITTY HAWK, At Sea (NNS) -- An F/A-18C Hornet assigned to Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 195, part of Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 5, was lost at sea July 30 during a night training mission from USS Kitty Hawk (CV 63).

The pilot ejected and was safely recovered by a U.S. Navy helicopter shortly after the incident, which took place about 400 miles southeast of Guam.

The aircraft was conducting routine training at the time. A Navy investigation will be conducted to determine the cause.

The pilot’s name will not be released at this time.

The F/A-18C is a single seat fighter and attack aircraft. The squadron operates from Naval Air Facility Atsugi, Japan, and is embarked on Kitty Hawk.

The Kitty Hawk Carrier Strike Group is on its summer deployment in the western Pacific Ocean. The strike group is the U.S. Navy’s largest and includes the carrier, seven ships of Destroyer Squadron 15, two Aegis weapons system-equipped guided-missile cruisers and CVW 5.

The ships operate from Fleet Activities Yokosuka, Japan, and the air wing operates from Naval Air Facility Atsugi, Japan. Together, they serve as the 7th Fleet’s combatant force.

Safeguard Completes Final Underway

By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class (SW) Joshua J. Wahl, Fleet Public Affairs Center Det. Sasebo, Japan

SASEBO, Japan (NNS) -- “Underway” was announced for the last time on board USS Safeguard (ARS 50) as the ship completed an ammunition offload, July 25, in preparation for decommissioning and transfer to the Military Sealift Command in September.

Before the offload, ship’s crew and ordnance personnel combined efforts in counting the ammunition and completing required paperwork.

Prior planning enabled a smooth offload with no mishaps.

“I could not have been more proud and happy of what the crew did [today] and have done throughout the numerous operations this ship has completed,” said Lt. Cmdr. Doyle K. Hodges, commanding officer of Safeguard.

As Safeguard Sailors listened to the final “underway” called over the ship’s announcing system, many reminisced about serving on the last rescue and salvage ship in the Navy.

“I will miss my time here; it has been enjoyable, and I learned so much so much from the experience of being a part of this ship during our different exercises,” said Quartermaster 2nd Class John C. Bennett.

All members of the crew have received verbal or written orders to new commands and schools throughout the fleet.

“My last two years on the ship have been great. I’m getting ready take what I learned on the Safeguard forward with me to my new assignment,” said Damage Controlman Fireman (SW) Jose A. Vidal, who will stay in Sasebo and serve on the amphibious assault ship USS Essex (LHD 2).

Equally sentimental as the last “underway” was the last call of “moored, shift colors.”

Safeguard and its crew will remain pierside and continue maintenance and preservation until Sept. 26 when it will become USNS Safeguard.

Safeguard is a forward-deployed rescue and salvage ship operating out of Sasebo and is part of Task Force 76, the Navy’s only forward-deployed amphibious force.

Big E Wraps Cannes, France Port Visit

By Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class (SW) Hendrick L. Dickson, USS Enterprise Public Affairs

USS ENTERPRISE, At Sea (NNS) -- USS Enterprise (CVN 65) Big E departed Cannes, France, July 27 after a three-day port visit. The stop in southern France was the ship’s first port visit since deploying on July 7.

The crew of more than 6,500 Sailors and Marines served as American ambassadors during their visit, using their influence to help strengthen ties between France and the United States.

Enterprise was the platform for a landmark event between French and U.S. navies July 23, a day before the port visit, when the ship trapped and launched two of France’s multi-role combat fighters, Rafale M aircraft. It was the first time the aircraft had ever trapped aboard a U.S. aircraft carrier.

This historical event was a testament to Chief of Naval Operation’s vision of a “1,000-ship navy.”

“When the CNO speaks about a ‘1,000-ship navy,’ this is what that concept can achieve – International partners working together to improve global maritime security,” said Enterprise Commanding Officer Capt. Ron Horton. “The French pilots landing Rafales under the direction of our Sailors truly represents that type of cooperation needed to achieve that goal. It is what the concept is about.”

More than 75 Sailors and Marines left an indelible mark in Cannes by participating in two community relations (COMREL) projects. The charity organization, Rayon de Soleil, coordinated both projects along with the local husbanding agent. Crew members painted walls and did extensive landscaping at two local orphanages.

Enterprise Chaplain Alan Wilmot said the COMRELs further symbolized what this port visit was all about.

“I’m absolutely thrilled about the results from these projects,” said Wilmot. “The over-arching mission of this port visit was building a positive relationship between the U.S. and France. The COMRELs were an integral part of that.”

Enterprise also held a reception aboard the ship hosted by Adm. Henry G. "Harry" Ulrich III, Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Europe, celebrating the partnership between France and the United States. More than 500 French distinguished visitors and American officials attended the event including the French chief of naval operations and the U.S. Ambassador to France.

“Today marks an important step in our operation cooperation,” said French CNO Admiral Oudot de Dainville. “It is also the confidence in the synergy existing between the American and French naval aviation. It was aboard this U.S. Navy carrier that the Rafale fighter and the French navy Hawkeye operated together as such for the first time.”

Enterprise is the flagship for Carrier Strike Group 12. The ship and embarked Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 1 is currently on a scheduled six-month deployment in the U.S. 6th and 5th Fleet areas of responsibility.

Monday, July 30, 2007

Beale Global Hawk deploys for first time

by 2nd Lt. Ashley Peltier
9th Reconnaissance Wing Public Affairs
A flightline ground crew secures the Global Hawk for towing to a secure hangar July 19 at Andersen Air Force Base, Guam. The aircraft has a wing span of 116 feet and is designed to cruise at extremely high altitudes. This marked the first time a Global Hawk deployed in support from the 9th Reconnaissance Wing at Beale Air Force Base, Calif. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Miranda Moorer)

BEALE AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. (AFPN) -- The 9th Reconnaissance Wing's RQ-4 Global Hawk program passed a significant milestone by completing its first operational Global Hawk deployment July 19 from Beale Air Force Base to Andersen AFB, Guam.

"This is the first time in United States Air Force history that we've deployed the Global Hawk aircraft, personnel and support equipment directly from Beale in support of a combatant commander tasking," said Lt. Col. Chad Clifton, the 9th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron commander.

Previous Global Hawk deployments were flown out of Edwards AFB, Calif., with a combined effort from pilots of both Edwards and Beale Air Force bases.

The flight also marks the first Global Hawk landing at Andersen AFB, where the Global Hawk is scheduled to be stationed permanently starting in 2009.

The deployment symbolically represents the first step in stabilizing unmanned aircraft in national and international air space, base officials said. This operational mission required Beale AFB Airmen to set up the launch and recovery element, and all additional infrastructures to receive the aircraft at Andersen AFB.

"We have stabilized our training operations at Beale and are now stepping out to show that we can safely self-deploy the Global Hawk around the world," said Lt. Col. J. Scott Winstead, the 12th Reconnaissance Squadron commander.

To make the long trip and land safely, many obstacles had to be overcome by maintenance and operations members.

"The primary challenge from the operations side was software and weather," Colonel Winstead said. "We had to delay the initial deployment a week to allow a typhoon to move through the Guam area, and the software used to fly the Global Hawk is new and requires different training for the pilots."

To overcome these obstacles, a massive training effort was launched by the 12th and 18th Reconnaissance Squadrons from Beale AFB. With the operations side addressed, maintenance professionals were facing their own equally demanding obstacles.

Maintenance crews at Beale AFB had to focus on efficient trouble-shooting and problem correction to launch the aircraft in a 45-minute window.

"We were dealing with so many firsts," said Maj. Alan Rabb, the 18th Reconnaissance Squadron chief of current operations and en route team commander. "Our first hurdle was to get (to Andersen) and get set up, which alone, proved to be a bit of a challenge."

Once they arrived at Andersen AFB, the en route team of Beale AFB maintainers set up the launch and recovery element, initiating satellite connectivity, performing link checks and trouble-shooting possible risks; all necessary to receive the Global Hawk.

"Maintenance leadership is extremely proud of every maintainer whose hard work and teamwork really made this operational mission happen," Colonel Clifton said.

"Teamwork is truly the backbone of Global Hawk operations," Major Rabb said.

This mission demonstrated the tremendous range and capabilities the Global Hawk brings to the fight.

"This deployment really shows the incredible global reach of the aircraft as the 16-hour leg from Beale to Guam was only slightly over half of the 30-hour capability," Colonel Winstead said.

"The lessons learned here are critical to the future deployment capability of the Global Hawk," said Col. Jon Engle, the 9th Operations Group commander.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

One base one command post

Earlier this month on this blog I reported that the USAF is moving towards a one command post concept (see http://mt-milcom.blogspot.com/2007/07/one-command-post-initiative.html) Now I have official notice that the 419FW has closed down their 252.100 MHz CP frequency. The reason? See below.

Staff Sgt. Childers handles the flow of information to and from higher headquaters and delivers vital command messages to Hill Airmen. "If an accident happens, our reports go straight to Air Force commanders or even the President," Sergeant Childers said. (U.S. Air Force Photo by Senior Airman Daniel Durbin)

419th Fighter Wing Public Affairs

HILL AIR FORCE BASE, Utah -- You may not know they exist, but the men and women of the Hill Air Force Base Consolidated Command Post control the information that makes the Air Force work and affects Airmen every day.

Staff Sgt. Cherelyn Childers, of the 419th Fighter Wing, knows that well enough. As part of her job as a command Post Controller, she is responsible for relaying all messages to and from top brass from the Pentagon, as well as delivering command messages to Team Hill Airmen.

"We are the nerve center of the base," Sergeant Childers said. "We coordinate information to and from higher headquarters."

A busy workday may mean a challenging and more interesting day for some Airmen, but for Sergeant Childers, a busy day is usually not a good thing.

"A busy day is usually a bad day," said Sergeant Childers. "It could be a casualty, it could be a change in force protection conditions, or it could mean a war is starting."

Senior Master Sgt. Sara Drake, the Command Post Superintendent, said that Sergeant Childers' job and others in her career field have been made temporarily more complicated by a new Air Force initiative mandating there be only one command post per base.

Sergeant Drake said that the 419th FW command post merged with the 75th Air Base Wing command post right after the April unit training assembly. The merger made perfect sense for Sergeant Drake, who is down to a staff of five reservists after some recent deployments, while the active duty side maintains 25 full-time command post technicians.

"We pressed forward with combining the command posts," said Drake. "We'll be side by side, one command post." The single command post concept will reshape the command post career field, said Sergeant Drake.

"It allows the base to have one point of contact," said Sergeant Drake.

The challenge of the command post career field is working with Air Force top brass, and the high expectations of the commanders, said Sergeant Drake.

"It feels like I'm back in the active duty," Sergeant Childers joked. "It's fun, there's a very good group of people over there."

CRT Freqs at Little Rock

For my friends at the Little Rock AFB in Arkansas. Plug these freqs in and let me know what you hear.

CRT C2 Frequencies "Kingfish Papa"
141.300 VHF Primary
138.150 VHF Secondary
335.875 UHF Primary
313.550 UHF Secondary

Friday, July 27, 2007

Lincoln Leaves San Diego, Begins TSTA

By Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class James R. Evans, USS Abraham Lincoln Public Affairs
Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN 72) conducts a fueling at sea (FAS) with Military Sealift Command fleet replenishment oiler USNS Henry J. Kaiser (T-AO 187). Lincoln is underway conducting Carrier Qualifications as part of a scheduled work-up off the coast of Southern California. U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class James R. Evans

USS ABRAHAM LINCOLN, At Sea (NNS) -- USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN-72) wrapped up two weeks of training and certification with a scheduled port visit to Naval Air Station North Island July 22-24.

Lincoln’s crew enjoyed two full days of liberty in the San Diego area while the ship took on personnel and equipment from Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 2 in preparation for the next phase of operations.

Prior to the visit, Lincoln spent its first two weeks underway since completing sea trials and a nine-month Dry-dock Planned Incremental Availability at Puget Sound Naval Shipyard in Bremerton, Wash.

During the time underway, Lincoln completed carrier qualifications for the ship’s flight deck, including certification of its Precision Approach Landing System and Carrier Air Traffic Control, and performed carrier qualifications for four west coast Fleet Replacement Squadrons (FRS), according to Lincoln’s operations officer, Cmdr. Paul Mackley.

“We spent the first two weeks out to sea getting our basic qualifications so that we could move on to the next phase of training,” Mackley said. “We met all of our objectives and got good reviews from COMNAVAIR (Commander, Naval Air Forces) and AIRPAC (Air Forces Pacific). In all, we did 275 arrested landings for our own (flight deck) certification and another 652 for FRS carrier qualification.”

Lincoln also hosted a ship’s Materials Maintenance Management assessment assist team from Air Forces Pacific, performed two fueling at sea evolutions with USNS Henry J. Kaiser (T-AO 187), and conducted a number of shipwide training evolutions including man overboard drills and live-fire exercises.

Lincoln departed NAS North Island July 24 to begin a Tailored Ship’s Training Availability (TSTA). TSTA is designed to prepare the ship and crew for full integration into Carrier Strike Group (CSG) 9.

“The primary objective of TSTA is to ensure that we can perform all of our self-sustained combat missions within the ship,” Mackley said. “It’s also our first chance to integrate with our air wing. Once we complete TSTA, we basically graduate and join the strike group.”

For Lincoln's crew, TSTA will mean a busy few weeks as the ship’s operational tempo ramps up to ensure that they are ready for the challenges of the next deployment.

“There will be flight operations pretty much every day, a lot of general quarters drills to ensure that the crew is ready and able to fight the ship in any situation, and a few underway replenishments,” Mackley said. “The other major component is our air defense [qualifications], including Close-In Weapons System shoots and a NATO Sea Sparrow shoot.”

The three-phase TSTA will lead up to a Final Evaluation Problem, in which the entire ship’s performance over a two-day event will be graded by Afloat Training Group and Air Forces Pacific before the ship can be certified by CSG 9.

JFK Departs Mayport on Last Journey

Decommissioned aircraft carrier John F. Kennedy (CV 67) departs Naval Station Mayport en route to Norfolk, Va. Homeported at Naval Station Mayport since 1995, the ship will be towed to Hampton Roads until the ship can be transferred to the Navy Inactive Ship Maintenance Facility in Philadelphia. U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Tommy Gilligan.

TG 152 Enhances Regional Security and Stability

By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Dustin Mapson and Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Emmanuel Rios, Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Central Command/ Commander, U.S. Fifth Fleet Combined Maritime Forces

An MH-60 Seahawk, assigned to Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) 23, lands aboard amphibious assault ship USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD 6) momentarily to wash its windows before returning to an evening vertical replenishment (VERTREP) with Military Sealift Command combat stores ship USNS Concord (T-AFS 5). VERTREPs are conducted routinely while underway in order to bring necessary supplies aboard ship. Bonhomme Richard Expeditionary Strike Group is operating in the U.S. 5th Fleet area of operations conducting maritime operations. U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Woody Paschall

USS BONHOMME RICHARD, At Sea (NNS) -- Commander, Task Group (CTG) 152, currently commanded by Commander, Bonhomme Richard Expeditionary Strike Group (BHRESG) and Amphibious Squadron (PHIBRON) 7, is conducting Maritime Security Operations (MSO) in the Persian Gulf.

Helicopter Combat Support Squadron (HSC) 23, embarked aboard USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD 6), has increased the Task Group’s capabilities, allowing them to conduct airborne patrols and add another form of deterrence to piracy and crime at sea, said Lt. David Owens, a helicopter pilot with HSC-23.

“Seeing us flying around makes commercial mariners in the region feel safe,” said Owens. “They know that if we are in the area and they have a problem, we are here to help.”

Recently, USS Denver (LPD 9), part of the BHRESG, responded to an assistance call from commercial vessel after one of the vessel’s crew members was critically injured in a fall. Denver medevaced the injured mariner to a hospital in the region for further treatment.

According to CTG 152 Planner Lt. Cmdr. Sean Hixson, surface assets such as the ESG’s landing craft air cushion (LCAC) and landing craft utility (LCU) allow the task group commander to increase the Coalition’s influence with other surface vessels operating in the area.

“The amphibious ships themselves are a big deterrence to anybody with bad intentions,” said Hixson. “Take that and add five LCACs and an LCU to the equation, and we significantly increase our presence in the area, thus increasing our opportunity for personal interaction.”

Hixson said boarding teams from USS Rushmore (LSD 47), Denver and other coalition assets assigned to CTG 152 conducted Interaction Patrols (IPATS) to the local mariners. IPATS are an element of MSO which help generate support and awareness amongst commercial vessels sailing in the region of the Coalition’s efforts to ensure a safe and secure maritime environment.

“We are showing them that we are here to help, and if they are in need, they can trust the Coalition forces to come to their aid,” said Hixson.

Hixson also said CTG 152’s reach extends to port visits, too.

“Every time our Sailors go ashore, we are taking part in what we call ‘Liberty as a Mission,’” said Hixson. “This allows our Sailors to get out into the communities we visit and positively represent America.”

While in port, many Sailors participate in community relations (COMREL) projects organized through local civic organizations.

“Through these COMREL projects, Sailors get to interact with the local community, help a good cause and show that we are good people who are willing and able to help,” said Hixson.

Through the myriad elements of MSO, CTG 152 and the BHRESG have made an impact in the area of operations, said Commander, BHRESG, Capt. Bradley D. Martin.

“The flexibility of our coalition force operating in the region has greatly increased our ability to positively impact the area stretching from the North Arabian Gulf all the way down to the Strait of Hormuz,” said Martin. “Through effective blending of Coalition air assets and surface vessels and interaction between our Sailors and the local communities, we have enhanced the Coalition’s positive relationship and cooperation in the region.”

Martin said these relationships, created and maintained through MSO, will continue to help set the conditions for security and stability in the maritime environment, as well as complement the counterterrorism and security efforts of regional nations. Coalition forces conduct MSO under international maritime conventions to ensure security and safety in international waters so that all commercial shipping can operate freely while transiting the region.

“We are here to help create stability so that everyone from the local fisherman to those engaging in international trade feel safe while they go about their daily lives making a living,” said Martin. “Our ability stretches far beyond our warfare capabilities and has the opportunity to serve the needs of everyone who benefits from free and open use of the international waters of the Arabian Gulf.”

The Arabian Gulf is a body of water that is commonly known as the Persian Gulf.

The BHRESG consists of PHIBRON 7, Bonhomme Richard, Denver, USS Rushmore, USS Milius (DDG 69), USS Chung-Hoon (DDG 93), USS Chosin (CG 65), and 2,200 combat-ready Marines of the 13th MEU. BHRESG is operating in the U.S. 5th Fleet area of operations conducting MSO.

Milstar Satellite Constellation Repositioned

A combined U.S. Air Force/Lockheed Martin team has successfully completed an on-orbit reconfiguration of the five-satellite Milstar constellation to maximize the system's capabilities to provide secure, reliable and robust communications to U.S. and Allied Forces around the globe.

Orbiting the earth at over 22,000 miles in space, the Milstar constellation -- which has now surpassed 40 years of combined successful operations -- provides a protected, global communication network for the joint forces of the U.S. military and can transmit voice, data, and imagery, in addition to offering video teleconferencing capabilities.

The Milstar system is the only survivable, endurable means that the President, the Secretary of Defense and the Commander, U.S. Strategic Command have to maintain positive command and control of this nation's strategic forces.

This reconfiguration, which entailed repositioning the satellites relative to one another to maximize and improve the constellation's earth coverage visibility, was successfully executed during a seven-month period by a team of engineers from Lockheed Martin Space Systems, Sunnyvale, Calif., the Milstar prime contractor, working with the 4th Space Operations Squadron at Schriever AFB, Colo., the Air Force’s team which flies and maintains the Milstar constellation.

This proven ability to realign the operational location of the entire spacecraft constellation with no unplanned service disruptions to military forces deployed around the globe will be vital to bringing the follow-on Advanced Extremely High Frequency (AEHF) satellites into the nation's survivable, secure MILSATCOM architecture.

"We are proud of the capability we have demonstrated to increase the effectiveness of this critical system to our customer, said Leonard F. Kwiatkowski, Lockheed Martin's vice president and general manager of Military Space Programs. "Designed, built and operated by a talented and dedicated group of people, Milstar continues to deliver critical secure, real-time, connectivity to the warfighter and we look forward to achieving mission success as we prepare to launch the first AEHF satellite next year."

The AEHF team is led by the MILSATCOM Systems Wing, located at the Space and Missile Systems Center, Los Angeles Air Force Base, Calif.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

1st Maritime Force Protection Unit is Commissioned at Kings Bay

KINGS BAY, Ga. (NNS) -- The U.S. Coast Guard commissioned the Maritime Force Protection Unit (MFPU) July 24 at Naval Submarine Base Kings Bay.

The unit, the first of its kind, was officially activated during a formal commissioning ceremony presided over by Vice Adm. D. Brian Peterman, commander of the Coast Guard's Atlantic Area.

“This is a new and unique mission,” Peterman said during his commissioning remarks. He also praised the Navy for helping develop training, techniques and specialized equipment for the new mission from scratch. “It shows a great relationship with the Navy and Coast Guard.”

The Coast Guard unit will provide enhanced security for the Trident submarines (SSBN) within their homeport transit area. Tridents generally operate on the surface during transit and the MFPU will provide additional security measures while operating under these conditions.

Commanding officer of the new unit Cmdr. Alan Reagan said the first 87-foot Coast Guard Cutter Sea Dragon will arrive in November. An additional cutter, smaller patrol craft, and around 200 additional Coastguardsmen are scheduled to arrive at the strategic, coastal Georgia submarine base within the next two to three years he said.

“The unit’s mission is extremely critical to national security,” Reagan said.

MFPU Kings Bay is a single-mission unit that has specially trained and equipped Coast Guard personnel to man and operate escort vessels procured by the Navy specifically for that use. The unit will have broad law enforcement authority, including the authority to establish, patrol, and enforce exclusionary zones, naval vessel protective zones, restricted navigation areas, and security zones supporting naval operations.

"Maritime Force Protection Unit Kings Bay provides an invaluable service to the Navy and our nation through its unique ability to exercise the Coast Guard's law enforcement authorities while enforcing a naval vessel protective zone," said Peterman. "Maritime force protection is crucial if our nation's strategic naval assets are to safely operate in close proximity to vessel traffic in confined bodies of water."

A second unit is scheduled for commissioning in Bangor, Wash., July 26.

Rafales Trap Aboard Big E

By Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Jamica C. Johnson, USS Enterprise Public Affairs

ABOARD USS ENTERPRISE (NNS) -- USS Enterprise (CVN 65) (Big E) was a part of history July 23, when two French multi-role combat fighter Rafale M aircraft trapped and launched aboard a U.S. Navy aircraft carrier for the first time.

More than 30 U.S. and French diplomats came aboard to witness the event, including Commander U.S. 6th Fleet Vice Adm. John Stufflebeem, U.S. Ambassador to France Craig Stapleton, Chief of French Naval Staff Admiral Oudot de Dainville, and the CEO of Dassualt Aviation (builder of Rafale) Serge Dassualt.

According to Stapleton, this was a momentous occasion in cooperation between the U.S. and French navies.

“Being that this is the first time a U.S. aircraft carrier has been in France in six years it’s important, and also I believe it’s the first time French fighter pilots have been able to land onboard the deck of an American aircraft carrier, this is an important moment in U.S. History,” said Stapleton.

After the Rafales landed, the fighter pilots and guests joined Carrier Strike Group 12/Enterprise Strike Group Commander Rear Adm. Daniel Holloway and Enterprise Commanding Officer Capt. Ron Horton in the flag mess for refreshments.

The distinguished visitors were given a tour of the Enterprise, as well as taking time out to talk with some of Big E’s flight deck and hangar bay crew.

This engagement was a large step for Enterprise and a step in the right direction for the Chief of Naval Operation’s vision of a “1,000-ship navy.”

“This certainly projected the importance of naval power and hopefully will increase cooperation between the French navy and the American Navy,” said Stapleton.

Enterprise is currently on a regularly scheduled six-month deployment as the flag ship for Carrier Strike Group 12.

USS Seawolf Makes New Home In Pacific Northwest

By Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class S. Dagendesh, Fleet Public Affairs Center Det. Northwest

BREMERTON, Wash. (NNS) -- During a small ceremony at Naval Base (NB) Kitsap Bremerton’s Delta pier, Sailors welcomed the Seawolf-class fast-attack submarine USS Seawolf (SSN 21) to the Pacific Northwest on July 22.

The submarine transferred from its previous homeport of New London, Conn., to permanently reside in Bremerton.

“Today, we celebrate the arrival of the USS Seawolf to the great Pacific Northwest,” said Capt. H.H. “Butch” Howard III, commander of Submarine Development Squadron 5. “The first arrival signifies the vast expansion of the fast attack submarine presence here at NB Kitsap as well as adding about 213 more service members to our outstanding community.”

“Seawolf’s change of homeport is in line with the submarine force’s enhanced emphasis on Pacific Fleet operations, with 60 percent of US Navy submarine intended for permanent stationing in the Pacific Fleet,” said Lt. Kyle Raines, Commander, Submarine Group 9 public affairs officer.

The submarine will join the aircraft carrier USS John C. Stennis (CVN 72) which is homeported in Bremerton, and eight Trident ballistic missile submarines homeported in NB Kitsap Bangor.

“The Navy is appropriately shifting its fleet to address the more serious threats in the Pacific,” said Congressman Norm Dicks. “It represents another indication of the growing importance of Puget Sound as a strategically-critical West Coast homeport.”

The submarine was designed to operate autonomously against the world’s most capable submarine and surface threats, having the highest tactical speed of any United States submarine.

Built in Groton, Conn., and commissioned in 1997, the 353-foot submarine was the first in its class, replacing the smaller Los Angeles-class submarine.

The high-speed submarine will bring a 140 man crew as well as keep a continual supply of overhaul work and maintenance at the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard.

“For submariners in the area, the arrival of Seawolf represents much more,” said Howard. “With the fast attack presence, there comes an expansion of opportunity and a unique opportunity for our submarine Sailors. They will be able to expand their experience base, far beyond the traditional ballistic submarine structure that has been in place here for almost three decades.”

Planners keep Rodeo 2007 aircraft flying

by Staff Sgt. Nick Przybyciel
Rodeo 2007 Public Affairs

Senior Airman Christian Recene marshals a C-130 Hercules from Ramstein Air Base, Germany, during its July 21 arrival to McChord Air Force Base, Wash. Rodeo 2007, hosted by Air Mobility Command, is an airlift competition of U.S. and international air mobility forces. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman Jonathan Olds)

MCCHORD AIR FORCE BASE, Wash. (AFPN) -- On a gray Pacific Northwest morning in the middle of July, McChord Air Force Base resembled a European airfield at the height of the Berlin Airlift.

While the operations tempo for McChord AFB has been high for the last several years, the influx of aircraft here for the 2007 Air Mobility Command Rodeo dwarfs the normal pace.

"As far as an Air Force base goes, nothing comes close to this," said Lt. Col. Scott Lavigne, the head operations planner for the competition.

Nearly 50 airlift and tanker aircraft touched down at a rate of one every five minutes for more than four hours July 21 as American teams joined international competitors for Rodeo 2007.

Managing the aircraft arrivals as well as the flying operations during the week of competition is a monumental feat of planning and logistics. First, the C-17 Globemaster IIIs stationed at McChord AFB were assigned missions outside the local area, so there would be room on the flightline. International competitors arrived in mid July for orientation to the Pacific Northwest airspace. Then months of planning came together when a McChord AFB 62nd Airlift Wing aircrew arrived at 8 a.m. July 21 as the first of 44 American teams arrived.

A group of seven logisticians from Scott AFB joined McChord planners to coordinate the effort. The same team will help coordinate 147 missions during competition week, which runs through July 27.

"There are 50-plus teams flying missions every day, 24/7," Colonel Lavigne said. "We're the nexus of all the coordination for both the flying and ground portions of the competition. The secret is getting lots of smart captains working for you."

At Rodeo 2007, teams from all over the world compete in events to see who has the best combat airlift capabilities. Nearly every aspect of flying and support is tested. Aircrews are put through a litany of tests -- including a low-level airdrop -- to see who is best of the best. Keeping everything running with clock-like precision is the job of Colonel Lavigne and the rest of his team. There is no leeway built into the scoring system for an error made by the planners.

"Since everything relies on the previous time, it can create a snowball affect," Colonel Lavigne said.

The competition extends past the gates of McChord AFB. Civilian airports -- Seattle Tacoma International Airport being the largest -- sharing airspace with the competition also have to coordinate flights around Rodeo. Months ago, a McChord AFB member began coordinating flight planning with the various agencies involved.

"There's a tremendous amount of communication with the Federal Aviation Administration and area airports," Colonel Lavigne said. "They need to know the rules of our competition so they don't delay our competitors' flight times and get them 'dinged' on points."

Tracking such a unique mission requires specially designed software, created specifically for Rodeo 2007. Since the system AMC officials use to track tactical missions is geared strictly toward tracking air operations, a new one had to be developed to cover both the ground and air events that happen at the airlift competition.

At the 2005 Rodeo, Lt. Col. Mike Mattinson, a Rodeo coordinator, decided it was time to develop a system specifically for the competition. A C-17 Globemaster III instructor pilot by trade, Colonel Mattinson said he has spent the better part of the last 10 years tinkering with his office software, teaching himself a bit of programming along the way. As a result, he has become a point-man for the command's senior leadership when it comes to figuring out office technology.

For this year's competition, Colonel Mattinson crafted new software from scratch. New features, such as a "rainbow" summary that gives coordinators an effective visual of all assets, missions and flight times are included.

"It's a good system. There's a lot of versatility," said Capt. Lisa Pierce, one of the people Colonel Lavigne recruited to be part of his team.

The fact that Captain Pierce has no complaints bodes well for her. For the duration of the week-long competition, Captain Pierce and her fellow planners will spend at least 12 hours per day working to keep the sky and ground organized.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Unknown Ship Now IDed

Bill in Boston writes:

"In coordination with folks at http://www.seawaves.com (Dave S), we believe this is the USS Ronald Reagan all wrapped up for sandblasting and re-painting."

Thanks Bill de Larry

Patrick Nobel sent this picture (above) to Grove/MT and asked if we could ID it. Patrick wrote:

"My Wife, Daughter, and I were down in California visiting family, and one of the days, we went to San Diego. Before leaving SD, we went to Coronado Island. There was a ship close by that I have NEVER seen before. It almost looked like an Aircraft Carrier, but it wasn't."

I don't recognize it from the picture, anyone else have an idea?

Monitoring the 89AW

Want to hear the guys above?

Find a spot in your scanner for 136.725 MHz.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

USS Albuquerque Port Visit to Trinidad and Tobago

Dinesh Maharajh passes along the following bit of intel. Thanks Dinesh.

US submarine docks in Chaguaramas, Monday, July 23, 2007 --

The nuclear-powered attack submarine USS Albuquerque (SSN-706) sailed into the Chaguaramas port yesterday for a "liberty call" to Trinidad and Tobago. It is a Los Angeles class sub and its crew, of 12 officers and 115 enlisted men, will be engaged not in war, but to paint the Rainbow Rescue shelter at Belmont.

The submarine, which carries Tomahawk cruise missiles which were used with resounding success in the first Gulf War in 1991 was part of a larger group called the USS Theodore Roosevelt battle group in 1999. It was while participating in a six-month Mediterranean tour, the submarine fired a total of ten Tomahawks into Serb-controlled Yugoslavia.

The LA class submarine was developed during the Cold War era as a hunter to counter the threat posed by the then Soviet Union's own attack submarine. The Soviet attack strength lay in its numbers. The Americans depended on technological superiority and although the USS Albuquerque is a 25-year-old submarine, it has been outfitted to meet the demand of the increasingly non-conventional battlefields.

USS Harry S. Truman TRS

My old friend Robert Wyman sent in a report on the trunk radio system (TRS) used on the USS Harry S. Truman (CVN-75). Here is his report:

EDACS system, comms are analog, non-encrypted. I don't have the LCN order (anyone have it?), but voice comms have been heard on these freqs so far (inputs and outputs):

406.125 Control Channel

VOICE (w/EDACS trailing tones):
407.075 408.125 408.450 408.700 408.975 409.425 410.025 411.975 412.475 416.225
416.600 418.025* 419.600 419.900

*418.025 may be a stand-alone freq; scanner is reporting a tone of 74.4

Nothing heard during 380-400 search.

156.725 Marine channel 74 w/"WARSHIP 75"and local vessel comms
157.1 Marine channel 22A w/USCG warning area advisories

Many thanks to Robert for passing that report along to MT's Milcom Monitoring Blog.

USS Kidd Arrives in San Diego

By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class (SW) Shannon R. Warner, Fleet Public Affairs Center, Pacific

SAN DIEGO (NNS) -- The Navy’s newest Arleigh-Burke class guided-missile destroyer USS Kidd (DDG 100) was greeted with excitement by the crew’s family and friends when it arrived at its homeport of San Diego, July 19.

Members of the Pearl Harbor Survivors Association joined family and friends to welcome the ship and honor the ship’s namesake, Rear Adm. Isaac Campbell Kidd.

Rear Adm. Kidd was awarded the Medal of Honor posthumously after directing the counterattack against enemy aircraft from the bridge of his flag ship, USS Arizona, during the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor Dec. 7, 1941. Rear Adm. Kidd died when the bridge took a direct hit from enemy ordnance.

“It’s important to honor Rear Adm. Kidd, he’s a Medal of Honor winner, and our motto is to ‘Remember Pearl Harbor,’ and keep America alert,” said Bill Craddock of the Pear Harbor Survivors Association.

Like her namesake, the Kidd crew have succeeded in adapting and overcoming overwhelming odds to accomplish the mission given to her by the United States Navy.

“Without a doubt, the crew has exceeded every expectation I had for them. They met every task head on. I can’t say enough about the crew,” said Kidd’s Commanding Officer, Cmdr. Richard E. Thomas. “It’s a great feeling being in charge of such a great ship and such a great crew.”

Kidd's journey to San Diego was delayed when the ship sustained damages during Hurricane Katrina in 2005 while at Pascagoula, Miss., and had to return to dry-dock for repairs.

Now the 276 officers and Sailors serving aboard Kidd can enjoy being reunited with their families and friends.

“I have been separated from my family for about eight months … I’m glad to be home,” said Gas Turbine System Technician (Mechanical) 3rd Class Joshua Catt.

Commissioned June 9 at the Port of Galveston in Galveston, Texas, Kidd is the 50th ship in the Arleigh-Burke class of guided-missile destroyers.

Kidd can conduct a variety of operations in support of the National Military Strategy. The ship contains myriad offensive and defensive weapons designed to support maritime defense needs into the 21st century.

“Kidd is the best ship because it’s ours,” said Thomas.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Deactivation activities begin at Malmstrom

by Valerie Mullett
341st Space Wing Public Affairs Office

MALMSTROM AIR FORCE BASE, Mont. -- The first Minuteman III WS-133B intercontinental ballistic missile was removed from Sierra-38 launch facility near Brady, Mont., July 12 as a result of the order to begin missile deactivation activities.

This order was given by Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. T. Michael Moseley June 29.

Malmstrom AFB currently operates, maintains, secures and supports two types of Minuteman III Rapid Execution and Combat Targeting (REACT) weapons systems: the REACT-A and the REACT-B systems. The 564th MS is the only squadron operating the REACT-B system in the Air Force.

Two teams of missile maintainers and handlers executed the seven-and-a-half-hour mission to complete the third phase of the missile removal. Phases one and two had been completed in earlier missions.

"During the normal maintenance cycles, the re-entry system and guidance systems, the top portions of the missile, had already been removed and were being worked on for current sustainment programs when the order to deactivate was received," said Master Sgt. Les Moore, NCO in charge of the missile handling section. "It only made sense to remove the downstage at S-38 as the first pull."

In a statement to the media July 2, Col. Sandy Finan, 341st Space Wing commander, said the deactivation would continue at a rate of about one missile per week to meet the one-year deadline for deactivation.

The decision to deactivate 50 missiles was made by the nation's defense leaders and is in accordance with the 2006 Quadrennial Defense Review, which stated, "to achieve the characteristics of the future joint force and build upon progress to date, the Department of Defense will reduce the number of deployed Minuteman III ballistic missiles from 500 to 450 beginning in FY07."

"Many of the missile components removed during deactivation will return to weapon system's flight test and operations programs, extending the entire intercontinental ballistic missile program's viable service life beyond 2018," Colonel Finan said.

Friday, July 20, 2007

JTFX-07-2 Order of Battle

Galrahn on the Information Dissemination blog is reporting that Operation Bold Step (JTFX-07-2) will be conducted off the US East Coast from July 26-32. The exercise includes US Navy and Royal Navy warships, USAF aircraft, and additional aircraft from NATO.

This will include the Truman and Eisenhower Carrier Strike Groups.

The complete story is listed at: http://informationdissemination.blogspot.com/2007/07/jtfx-07-2-order-of-battle.html

To all my fellow East Coast monitors, standby for some great listening and thanks Galrahn for the heads up from the Chief.

Big E Arrives in 6th Fleet AOR

By Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class (SW) Hendrick L. Dickson, USS Enterprise Public Affairs

Aviation Electronics Technician 3rd Class Christopher Denker, of Portland, Ore., uses a Mode-4 control box to check the Identification, Friend or Foe system on an F/A-18F Super Hornet on the flight deck of the nuclear-powered aircraft carrier USS Enterprise (CVN 65). (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class N.C. Kaylor)

USS ENTERPRISE, At Sea (NNS) -- USS Enterprise (CVN 65) entered the 6th Fleet area of operations (AOR) July 16.

Sixth Fleet, headquartered in Naples, Italy, provides overall command, operational control and coordination of U.S. naval forces in the European command.

While in 6th Fleet, Enterprise will focus on continuing to maintain combat readiness by conducting routine operations in the Mediterranean. The crew of more than 5,500 will host a reception and several French dignitaries during its stay in the region.

“Our mission as American ambassadors is just as important as sustaining combat operations from the sea,” said Enterprise Commanding Officer, Capt. Ron Horton.

“While we are in France, we will serve as diplomats and continue to strengthen the bond with our allies.”

Enterprise is the flagship for Carrier Strike Group 12, which includes the guided-missile destroyers USS Forrest Sherman (DDG 98), USS James E. Williams (DDG 95), USS Arleigh Burke (DDG 51) and USS Stout (DDG 55); guided-missile cruiser USS Gettysburg (CG 64); fast-attack submarine USS Philadelphia (SSN 690), all based in Norfolk; and the fast combat support ship USNS Supply (T-AOE 6) based in Earle, N.J. There are nearly 7,500 Sailors and Marines in the strike group.

The Enterprise Carrier Strike Group departed its homeport in Norfolk, July 7, and is underway as part of a routinely scheduled six-month deployment in support of the global war on terrorism.

New communications platform helps EOD save lives, time

by Senior Airman Clark Staehle
379th Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs

Staff Sgt. Jonathan Salisbury checks the input and output cables from a very small aperture terminal's satellite dish July 11 in Southwest Asia. Sergeant Salisbury is assigned to the 379th Expeditionary Civil Engineer Squadron explosive ordnance disposal unit. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Ashley Tyler)

SOUTHWEST ASIA (AFPN) -- Explosive ordnance disposal teams deployed to the areas of responsibility throughout Southwest Asia now have one more tool to help them fight the war on terrorism.

The very small aperture terminal, or VSAT, is a computer system that gives EOD teams the capability to make DSN calls and send and receive information to and from anywhere in the world.

"(VSAT) is a satellite communications platform that is easily portable and can be used in austere conditions," said Master Sgt. Ralph Godfrey, the 379th Expeditionary Civil Engineer Squadron EOD Flight chief. "It provides communications, both data and voice, to EOD teams working in areas where they previously had either limited or no communications."

Once set up, the VSAT is programmed with a Global Positioning System to automatically locate the nearest satellite, find the best signal and align itself with it. The portable equipment runs on a vehicle's battery power, though it can be configured to use alternating current from an outlet. This versatility gives any EOD team support anywhere in the AOR.

Many forward operating bases where EOD teams operate don't have reliable communication. When EOD teams are in the field, it's necessary for them to send incident reports to U.S. Central Command Air Forces officials. The information can then be sent out to coalition forces who can then use the intel to avoid other improvised explosive devices insurgents may have planted, and, in turn, save lives.

Part of what makes the VSAT attractive is the amount of time it can save -- a trained user can set it up in about 15 minutes.

"The VSAT allows EOD teams to immediately submit reports of the most recent threats in their area," said Senior Airman Josh Harris, a 379th ECES EOD member. "Prior to the VSAT, sometimes teams would have to wait several weeks before they could go from a (forward operating base) to main base to have access to (classified communication systems). With this kit they can always have access to those services. Because of that, it allows us, and intel, to more easily see how the insurgents (tactics, trends and procedures) are changing so we can better adapt our own TTPs to defeat the threats in the AOR."

Without VSAT, it could take several weeks to relay the information. A member of the EOD team would have to stay behind at a forward operating base, trying to relay the intel through the proper channels -- a process that might have taken weeks. By that time, any intel gathered is likely unusable and no longer applicable.

"Insurgent attacks are constantly evolving, but the VSAT allows us to report the most up-to-date information so that intel provided to everyone operating outside the wire is as up to date as possible," Airman Harris said.

The EOD team here is charged with receiving the VSATs and sending them into the AOR to Air Force, Army, Navy and Marine Corps EOD teams.

"The 379th has been the focal point for bringing the units into the AOR," said Sergeant Godfrey, a native of Portland, Ore. "Our job is to receive the units, and test them prior to shipping. The goal is to work out any major problems here, so the teams in the field can get the units up and running with as little trouble as possible."

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Feng Yun 1C Debris Update - Over 2000 Objects Officially Catalogued

(Image courtesy of the NASA Orbital Debris Program Office)

The extent of the debris cloud created by the destruction of the Fengyun-1C meteorological satellite on January 11, 2007 as part of an ASAT test by a Chinese ballistic interceptor is becoming more apparent as routine and special radar observations of the fragments provide more data. By the end of June 2007 the U.S. Space Surveillance Network (SSN) was tracking more than 2200 objects with a size of at least 5 cm.

I checked as of this morning and debris officially catalogued from the former Chinese Feng Yun 1C weather satellite and interceptor has reached 2015 pieces (1999-025CMD/SSC# 31926). This makes this Chinese ASAT test event by far the worst satellite fragmentation of the space age.

The Fengyun-1C debris cloud extends from 200 km to 4000 km in altitude, with the highest concentration near the breakup altitude of approximately 850 km. The debris orbits are rapidly spreading (see orbital graphics above) and will essentially encircle the globe by the end of the year. Only a few known debris had reentered more than five months after the test, and the majority will remain in orbit for many decades.

The large number of debris from Fengyun-1C are posing greater collision risks for spacecraft operating in low Earth orbit. The number of close approaches has risen significantly. On 22 June, NASA’s Terra spacecraft had to execute a collision avoidance maneuver to evade a fragment from Fengyun-1C that was on a trajectory which would have passed within 19 meters of Terra.

This situation is going to get worse as the debris spreads and encircles the globe in the coming years.

Upcoming Fengyun 1c Debris Events
FY1C Debris 1999-025BRZ/31369 with Meteor 1-18 1974-052A/7363
Closest approach 7/20/2007 at 2251 UTC within 94 meters

FY1C Debris 1999-025CEN/31739 with Ops 5712 (P/L 152) 1967-053G/2873
Closest approach 7/24/2007 at 0626 UTC within 171 meters

FY1C Debris 1999-025CBB/31645 with Rex 2 1996-041A/23814
Closest approach 7/25/2007 at 2016 UTC within 187 meters

FY1C Debris 1999-025AGD/30446 with Meteor 2-21 1993-055A/22782
Closest approach 7/23/2007 at 2206 UTC within 279 meters

Some background information above courtesy of the NASA Orbital Debris Quarterly News, July 2007 issue and Celestrak/Socrates.

Missile in this picture is the Chinese KT-2, the rocket believed to have been used in the January Feng Yun 1C anti-satellite interceptor test. Picture courtesy of the China Defense Blog (http://china-defense.blogspot.com)

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Japanese forces arrive for Red Flag-Alaska

An aircrew from the Japan Air Self-Defense Force exits an F-15 after a July 11 seven-hour flight across the Pacific Ocean from Hyukari Air Base near Tokyo to Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska. The JASDF airmen are participating in Red Flag-Alaska, a multinational air combat training exercise over the Pacific Alaskan Range Complex. (U.S. Air Force photo)

by Staff Sgt. Shawn J. Jones
Red Flag-Alaska Public Affairs

EIELSON AIR FORCE BASE, Alaska (AFPN) -- Airmen from the Land of the Rising Sun arrived in the Land of the Midnight Sun July 11 in preparation for the Red Flag-Alaska air combat training exercise.

After a seven-hour flight across the Pacific Ocean, six Japanese F-15s from Hyakuri Air Base near Tokyo and a U.S. KC-10 Extender carrying 21 Japan Air Self-Defense Force members landed at Eielson Air Force Base under Alaska's sunlit midnight sky.

More than 125 Japanese airmen will work and fly alongside an international force from Mongolia, Spain, Thailand, Turkey and the United States from July 12 to 27.

The massive land area and varied terrain of the Pacific Alaskan Range Complex, the largest training range in America, provides a vital training environment different from the Japanese airmen's homeland.

The landmass of Japan is comparable to the size of California, but the country consists of thousands of islands. The natural landscape of Japan results in a significant proportion of its airspace being located above water.

Training at the complex allows the Japanese Airmen to train in airspace conditions that parallel the settings of ongoing modern conflicts, said Col. Kyuichiro Tanaka, the flight commander of Red Flag-Alaska's Japanese forces.

The air-to-air combat training of Red Flag-Alaska is expected to provide an almost-real combat experience for Japanese F-15 aircrews. Aggressor squadrons are allied units that adopt the traits, tactics and tendencies of enemy air forces to provide a training environment more realistic than training against traditional allied units.

This is the first time airmen from the Japanese Air Self-Defense Force will train against an aggressor squadron, Colonel Tanaka said.

Training at Red Flag-Alaska also gives Japanese airmen an opportunity to exchange tactics and techniques with their cohorts from other nations.

"Red Flag-Alaska fosters military-to-military communication at both the officer and enlisted levels that will help to improve the relationships of the countries involved," said Lt. Col. Brett Pauer, the director of operations for Red Flag-Alaska.

Though the JASDF participates in an annual training exercise with the U.S. Air Force in Japan and regularly receives air-refueling support from U.S. aircraft, they have less experience in a multinational environment. Colonel Tanaka said the cross-military communication of Red Flag-Alaska will help provide that experience.

Red Flag-Alaska's multinational participation and the addition of the Pacific Alaskan Range Complex assets provide realistic combat training in a safe and controlled setting.

"In addition to training on a spectacular range in realistic combat scenarios, we also get the opportunity to exercise with our international partners, which in and of itself is extremely beneficial," said Col. Daniel DeBree, the Red Flag deployed forces commander.

Air Guard opens new combat training runway

A C-17 Globemaster III from the Mississippi Air National Guard's 172nd Airlift Wing lands at the new assault training runway at Camp Shelby, Miss., July 9. The 210-acre Shelby Aux Field is one of only two facilities in the world designed for C-17 short-field landing operations. It was constructed to meet Air Force C-17 training requirements. (U.S. Air Force photo/Tech. Sgt. Mike R. Smith)

by Tech. Sgt. Mike R. Smith
National Guard Bureau

HATTIESBURG, Miss. (AFPN) -- It's a 3,500-foot-long stretch of cement with a few hundred feet added on, just in case. That's not much space on which to safely land a heavily loaded, half-million pound cargo plane, but officials here say it's the perfect runway for Mississippi Air National Guard pilots to train on.

Mississippi National Guard members and special guests gathered in the summer heat at the Camp Shelby Joint Forces Training Center here July 9 to cut a yellow ribbon for the Air National Guard's first C-17 Globemaster III assault landing training facility.

Called Shelby Aux Field, the 210-acre airfield is one of only two runways in the world specifically designed for C-17 short-field landing operations. It was constructed to meet the training demands of the Air Guard's 172nd Airlift Wing, which operates and maintains eight of the aircraft.

More than 300 people attended the ceremony. They watched a C-17 flyover and a landing that demonstrated the airfield's and the airplane's capabilities. Speakers included Lt. Gen. Craig McKinley, director of the Air National Guard; Lt. Gen. Russel Honoré, commanding general of the 1st U.S. Army, and Maj. Gen. Harold Cross, the Mississippi Guard's adjutant general.

"It's great to come out and see something that has been on the drawing books for many, many years and now it's ready to be used fulltime," said General McKinley. "It means a lot to our country, it means a lot to the state of Mississippi and it will provide a lot of training for many years to come for Airmen flying the C-17."

The Jackson-based 172nd was the first Air Guard unit to fly the C-17, which Air Force officials call the service's "most flexible cargo aircraft." They say it can operate from small, austere airfields including assault runways as short as 3,500 feet and only 90 feet wide. The aircraft turns around on narrow runways by using its backing capability to make a three-point turn.

Capt. Brian Matranga, a pilot for the 172nd, said such maneuvers are generally performed by aircraft commanders. The wing has approximately 44 of them, and all are required to make assault landings every training cycle.

"That's a lot of training we have to accomplish ... and a lot of times it's hard to schedule at out-of-state facilities," said Captain Matranga.

An aircraft commander or mission pilot is the only one who can conduct the steep and swerving descents and short stops using thrust reversers and brakes during an assault landing. It's an initial qualification achieved at aircraft commander upgrade school at Altus Air Force Base, Okla.

Such landings can be conducted in blackout conditions in which aircrews wear night vision equipment to see special lights defining the runway. It could be compared to landing on an aircraft carrier at night, except that the runway is a lot longer and is not pitching and rolling.

However, a C-17 is longer than three Navy F/A-18 Hornets and can carry a 70-ton Abrams tank and more than 100 Soldiers.

A new three-stall fire house and operations center also has been built at Shelby Aux Field to support the training operations. Officials said they would share the facility with active duty C-17 units. It will provide users with real-time scoring and feedback on their landing maneuvers.

With 172nd Airmen managing weekly airlift missions to Iraq, and with a history of supplying airlift to joint forces in Turkey and Afghanistan, the training is relevant. The wing's Airmen said they remain ready to respond to all requests, including natural disaster missions and combat missions into joint force operations overseas.

"This (facility) is one little part in our national defense mosaic that continues to make us the greatest nation in the world," said General Cross. "It's an asset to the state of Mississippi and the nation."

AFIT students conduct payload testing for space shuttle

Capt. Jeremy Owens packages an Air Force Institute of Technology experiment for transport to the Johnson Space Center for preflight testing June 5 at the AFIT laboratory at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio. An upcoming space shuttle mission is going to feature a flight hardware experiment designed by AFIT students from the graduate school of engineering and management's department of aeronautics and astronautics. (U.S. Air Force photo/Dr. Richard Cobb)

WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Ohio (AFPN) -- An upcoming space shuttle mission is going to feature a flight hardware experiment designed by Air Force Institute of Technology students from the graduate school of engineering and management's department of aeronautics and astronautics.

Rigidizable Inflatable Get-Away-Special Experiment, or RIGEX, is a space shuttle experiment that will study the behavior of structures built using rigidizable/inflatable technology.

It investigates the structural characteristics of three test specimens when deployed in a zero-gravity space environment.

The overall goal is to demonstrate the feasibility of using rigidizable/inflatable materials to create lightweight space structures that can then be used for a variety of Defense Department remote sensing applications, said AFIT officials. Current payloads are often limited in size due to limited launch vehicle dimensions. Success of this technology would help alleviate size limitations for future missions.

The RIGEX program is being accomplished by combining the efforts of multiple student research theses completed as part of their master of science programs at AFIT. Participants include students from a variety of programs including astronautics, space systems, aeronautics, systems engineering and electrical engineering.

The project began in 2001 with a single student and a handful of experiment objectives, and it slowly developed into a set of preliminary designs and test plans. Each year, the students involved refine the designs, build and test prototypes, and settle on a final design. A unique aspect of the experiment is that each student was fully responsible for his or her contribution to the overall design, including all phases of the design, build, test, and qualification process, said Dr. Richard Cobb, the primary research adviser.

Students led the design reviews and presented them to the DOD Space Experiment Review Board to get manifested for launch, and presented them to the NASA Flight Safety Review Board to qualify the design. As a result, the effects of every engineering decision, both good and some not so good, became apparent as the build and testing proceeded. For a space-qualified design suitable for manned spaceflight, every last detail needed to be worked out, documented, and then presented to the NASA engineering team during flight safety reviews. This process provided the students with hands-on engineering experience.

Testing RIGEX at the Johnson Space Center represented the transition from the design/prototype/test phase of RIGEX to the flight qualify and launch readiness phase. To date, 13 AFIT students, plus the work of several summer intern students and laboratory support technicians including members from U.S. Air Force Academy, Wright State University, Rose-Hulman and the Ohio State University, were involved in the project. RIGEX represents the first-ever designed/built/qualified space flight experiment for AFIT. Along the way, AFIT has developed in-house expertise and implemented facility upgrades for development and flight qualification testing for future AFIT space payloads, enhancing both space research and space curriculum development.

The testing at the Johnson Space Center involved random vibration and electromagnetic testing designed to verify that the flight hardware will survive the trip to and from orbit and that it will function properly in the space environment.

All scheduled testing at Johnson was successfully completed, said Capt. Jeremy Owens, a current AFIT student in the Astronautical Engineering program. Final testing of the RIGEX payload is now underway at AFIT, with a planned delivery of the hardware to the Kennedy Space Center later on this year for a launch on the shuttle in February 2008.

Space operations streamlined

by Airman 1st Class Erica Stewart
30th Space Wing Public Affairs

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. (AFPN) -- The redesignation June 18 of the 614th Space Operations Group as the 614th Air and Space Operations Center will help streamline communications at the operational level between combatant commanders and the service components, Air Force space officials said.

The redesignation included the inactivation of the 614th Space Intelligence Group, 614th Space Intelligence Squadron and 614th Space Operations Squadron. It is part of the implementation of a component numbered air force, or C-NAF, organizational structure designed to enhance the delivery of Air Force capabilities to combatant commanders.

The space C-NAF, known as 14th Air Force (Air Forces Strategic-Space), will be the Air Force space operations component to U.S. Strategic Command, and will improve the way the Air Force delivers and integrates space capabilities into the joint fight, said Maj. Suzanne Sauls, chief of 14th AF commander's action group.

One reason for the reorganization is to streamline communications at the operational level between the combatant commander with the responsibility for global space operations and the service component with the superiority of Air Force space forces, she said.

Another reason for the change to a C-NAF organizational structure is to realign units to provide unity of command in the performance of critical space operations capabilities, Major Sauls said. Manpower and skill sets from the inactivated 614th SIG, 614th SIS, and 614th SOPS units will be realigned to the 614th AOC.

"This redesignation represents another important milestone in the 'normalization' of Air Force space operations," said Col. Stephen Whiting, the 614th AOC commander. "As with other critical Air Force operational missions, the Air Force now stands up a dedicated AOC to be used by the assigned USSTRATCOM combatant commander to provide command and control of his assigned space operations units."

Consolidating the chain of command in this way allows the Air Force to deliver operational space capabilities through a single Air Force forces commander.

Even with this structure change, the jobs the Airmen do in the 14th AF will not change; Airmen will just report to a different commander.

"This structure change is not really going to affect us much day to day," said Airman 1st Class Sarah Mitchell, 614th Space Intelligence Squadron. "We will do the same jobs, just have a different commander. Our old commanders will still be in charge of us but in the form of division chiefs."

With the Air Force downsizing to become a leaner, more efficient force, 14th AF officials feel that this re-designation will be a positive change.

"With the redesignation of the 614th AOC, the Air Force has simplified and streamlined its presentation of forces to the Joint Space Operations Center," Colonel Whiting said, "while leveraging unique Air Force capabilities and competencies, in concert with those of our sister services, to improve joint warfighting. The Air Force will now organize, train, equip, support and sustain the AOC dedicated to space operations in the same manner as its other AOCs."

Virginia ANG transitions to F-22 Raptor

RICHMOND, Va. (AFPN) -- The Virginia Air National Guard's 192nd Fighter Wing has become the first Air National Guard unit in the country to fly the F-22 Raptor. The transition from the F-16 Fighting Falcon to the F-22 took place June 20.

More than 20 pilots in the wing are trained to fly the F-22 and a growing number of the wing's full-time and traditional status Air Guardsmen are working at Langley Air Force Base, Va., changing the face of the Virginia ANG. Langley is home to the active-duty 1st Fighter Wing, the first Air Force unit to fly the F-22.

"After 16 years of flying the F-16, which included training missions, combat in Iraq and combat air patrols over Washington, D.C, we have three new, exciting opportunities at Langley," said Col. Jay Pearsall, 192nd FW commander. "The 192nd will associate with the active duty's 1st Fighter Wing F-22 Raptor mission, the 480 Intel Wing's distributed ground station imagery analysis mission and the Combat Air Force logistic support center."

One Command Post Initiative

Staff Sgt. Lynn Brown works at his control console inside the command post June 8 at Hickam Air Force Base, Hawaii. Sergeant Brown is an emergency actions controller with the 15th Airlift Wing. (U.S. Air Force photo/Tech. Sgt. Shane A. Cuomo)

by Tech. Sgt. Chris Vadnais

HICKAM AIR FORCE BASE, Hawaii (AFPN) -- Wing and tenant unit commanders and command post leaders Air Force wide were recently directed to consolidate their command and control operations.

Many Air Force bases have multiple command posts. The "One CP" initiative will consolidate those into one facility with a single staff.

While One CP will ultimately yield more efficient command and control centers, it will also benefit the Airmen in the Command Post (1C3) career field.

As it stands, air mobility control center, major command, active duty, Reserve, and Air National Guard controlling duties are all done separately on many bases. This means some Airmen only experience a portion of the 1C3 career field's core competencies of mission monitoring, emergency and disaster management, emergency actions, and operational reporting at a given assignment.

Under the new organization, most assignments will allow Airmen to do all the aspects of their job.

"It's a great thing for the Airmen," said Senior Master Sgt. Laura Hopkins, the Pacific Air Forces 1C3 career field functional manager.

"As our Airmen PCS (make permanent change of station) right now within the command and control career field, most of them require a significant amount of time learning command and control, as it were, for their particular location," she said.

"This initiative is going to bring all the core competencies back to the heart of the career field, so there will be significantly less time spent having to retrain and relearn."

One CP is also a total force initiative. Like Hickam AFB, many bases have separate active duty and Air National Guard command posts, each responsible for their respective assets. One CP will have active duty Airmen and Guardsmen working side-by-side, controlling all the team's assets together.

Senior Master Sgt. Hopkins serves on the One CP Working Group along with other MAJCOM 1C3 functional managers, the Air Force 1C3 functional manager, and subject matter experts. Their charge is to decide how to make this change happen.

One CP will affect nearly every base in the Air Force. A few -- including two in PACAF -- already have only one facility. However, a few bases will continue to operate multiple command posts.

"The One CP is a Wing-level base initiative, so it's the multiple command posts at the Wing level that are going to be consolidating," said Sergeant Hopkins.

One CP is part of a larger plan to implement installation control centers, which will be single facilities housing multiple command and control elements such as law enforcement and fire protection dispatch as well as the base's command post.