Monday, December 31, 2007

Happy New Year to our blog readers

As the year 2007 winds down, and we take a look back ... time to thank all our worldwide blog readers for a successful year on the web.

Shortwave Central, Btown Monitoring Post and Milcom Monitoring have had amazing website visitor statistics ... thanks to our readers.

We thank you for visiting, as well as your kind comments and observations. You the reader have made our three blogs a tremendous success.

Happy New Year and make it the best in 2008 !!

Gayle & Larry Van Horn
Teak Publishing
Brasstown, North Carolina

Sunday, December 30, 2007

USS Norfolk Deploys to CENTCOM

By Chief Mass Communication Specialist (SW/AW) Dean Lohmeyer, Commander, Submarine Force Public Affairs

The Los Angeles class fast-attack submarine USS Norfolk (SSN 714) departed Naval Station Norfolk's Pier 3 Dec. 28, beginning a regularly scheduled six-month independent deployment.

Norfolk will deploy to the U.S. Central Command area of responsibility.

Cmdr. Troy Jackson, Norfolk's commanding officer, said his crew is ready for every mission they are given.

"The crew is fired up and ready to go," said Jackson. "They've worked very hard over the past several months. They've put in a lot of hard work and effort. We've also received a lot of support from our parent squadron (Commander Submarine Squadron 6), our maintenance organization, and we also received a lot of support during our recent stay in Groton. I can't say enough about the support we've received to get us to this point."

Norfolk is deploying independently, without a carrier or expeditionary strike group. This type of deployment brings special challenges for Jackson and his crew.

"The challenges of deploying independently are that we won't have associated support directly with us, such as additional force protection that other units can provide," said Jackson. "It also brings opportunities, in that we can be a little more flexible in our operations and what we're permitted to do."

Norfolk's Chief of the Boat, Master Chief Machinist's Mate (SS) Bob Koehler, a 29-year veteran of the Navy, is making the final deployment of his career, and is excited to be getting underway.

"I'm excited, but I have mixed emotions," said Koehler. "It's been a good run, and it's going to be tough to leave, but I'm excited about getting out there. We have a lot of young guys on the boat, and that's what it's all about – watching them develop as submariners, as Sailors, and as people."

Norfolk's crew was able to spend the early portion of the holiday period at home. But with the deployment coming between Christmas and New Year's Day, it was difficult for Koehler and Norfolk's senior leaders to be able to give Norfolk's Sailors additional time off for the holidays.

"The crew is a little melancholy about the deployment happening when it is, but they understand that we're here to do a job and this is what we've been training for," said Koehler. "The upside is that we got to spend a little more time at home, but we remember that there are a lot of our brothers out there who didn't get to spend any time at home."

Electronics Technician 3rd Class (SS) Jeramya Henson is making his first deployment on board Norfolk. This will be the second deployment of his short career, having returned from the final deployment for USS Minneapolis-St. Paul (SSN 708) in April.

Henson said he's ready for this deployment, but could never really be prepared for a deployment.

"A lot of preparation goes into a deployment, but in my opinion you can never really be prepared for it," said Henson. "The first time I deployed, I didn't know what to expect. This time I have an idea of what to expect, but it's still difficult to prepare for, especially with this deployment coming so soon after I returned from the last one."

Part of Henson's preparations for this deployment included helping his wife, Ashley, move to Dallas, Texas, to be closer to family members for the duration of her husband's deployment.

"There are a lot of things that go into planning for a deployment, including the family aspect," said Henson. "We had to get a lot of our affairs in order before we moved her back home to Dallas. Being away from the family is the hardest thing."

Fast-attack submarines like Norfolk are multi-mission capable, using stealth, persistence, agility and firepower to deploy and support special forces operations, disrupt and destroy an adversary's military and economic operations at sea, provide early strike from close proximity, and ensure undersea superiority.

Norfolk is 360-feet long, displaces 6,900 tons of water, and can travel in excess of 25 knots.

Friday, December 28, 2007

VFA-86 Returns Home from Deployment

F/A-18Cs from VFA-86 based at MCAS Beaufort, South Carolina, were back in the air on Thursday after returning from a carrier deployment just before Christmas. They are using the same callsign, WINDER, and the same squadron frequencies that they were prior to the deployment:

354.4000 WINDER Base
308.9250 Tac 1
363.8250 Tac 2

Thanks to Mac McCormick and the Milcom newsgroup for this information.

Kearsarge Achieves 1,000th Aircraft Deployed Approach

USS KEARSARGE, At Sea (NNS) -- The amphibious assault ship USS Kearsarge (LHD 3) completed its 1,000th aircraft approach setting a new record during the current deployment for Kearsarge and large deck amphibious ships in the U.S. Atlantic Fleet.

The previous record for Kearsarge was 765 approaches, while the U.S. Atlantic Fleet record was at 910.

"This is a tremendous milestone for the Sailors and Marines of Kearsarge," said Capt. James Gregorski, commanding officer, Kearsarge. "Dedicated Sailors on board are committed to bringing back all aircraft launched safely and professionally. Whether they conduct one or a thousand approaches, safety is always top priority."

Air traffic controllers from the Kearsarge Amphibious Air Traffic Control Center, along with Sailors and Marines from Air Department, C5I, and the 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit's Air Command Element, demonstrated outstanding team work to ensure all approaches and landings were achieved with no damage to equipment or injury to personnel.

"Nothing is done out here alone. Without the help of C5I department keeping our gear up and the air command element's aggressive flight schedule, none of this could have been possible," said Lt.j.g. Chad Hunsucker, the air traffic control officer. "From the guys on the flight deck, aircraft maintainers, and the controllers on board, we all came together on a daily basis to complete the mission at hand."

During approaches, Sailors from Kearsarge Amphibious Air Traffic Control Center are responsible for ensuring proper spacing and sequencing of air traffic. During the terminal phase of flight, a radar final controller uses precision approach radar to provide decent and course guidance to the aircraft pilot.

Across the board, the Sailors onboard Kearsarge express pride in setting this record without casualties to personnel or equipment. They approached every dangerous evolution with superior professionalism and attention to detail.

Kearsarge is the flagship of the Kearsarge Strike Group on a regularly scheduled deployment in support of maritime security operations.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

B-2 mission shows bomber flexibility

by Tech. Sgt. Steven Wilson, 36th Operations Group Public Affairs

ANDERSEN AIR FORCE BASE, Guam (AFPN) -- Members of the 393rd Expeditionary Bomb Squadron deployed here with B-2 Spirits from Whiteman Air Force Base, Mo., took off on a two-ship exercise destined to Alaska Dec. 18 when one bomber was diverted to a global power sortie.

Global power missions, which are more than 20 hours long, demonstrate the global strike capability of America's bomber force.

"The jets were launched with flight plans and mission materials for Alaska," said Lt. Col. John Vitacca, the 393rd EBS commander. "However, in flight, one jet was re-tasked to Hawaii and was sent new target information to facilitate coordinated weapons releases with ground parties at Pohakuloa Training Range."

Both bombers later hit their intended targets near simultaneously. This ability to instantly adjust target sets is a cornerstone of America's airpower.

"This tasking demonstrates how flexible our Airmen and aircraft are," said Col. Damian McCarthy, the 36th Operations Group commander. "Our global strike capability can be adjusted mid-mission should the combatant commander deem it necessary. The strategic battlefield is in a constant state of flux and our adaptability makes our bomber force a very lethal platform."

Monday, December 24, 2007

Season's Greetings from the mountains of
Western North Carolina

I would like to wish all my blog readers of all faiths, my warmest holiday wishes. And to our men and women serving around the world in the Armed Forces and their families back home - Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. Thank you for your service and it is our prayer you remain safe and return home to your loved ones soon. You remain in our thoughts and prayers every day.

Larry Van Horn
Blog Editor

Photo: The Van Horn DX Cabin in the mountains of western North Carolina.

NORAD set to track Santa; Tracking Keps Available

Santa's fans can track his journey around the world on Dec. 24 at North American Aerospace Defense Command's special Web site: The site also features the history of NORAD Tracks Santa program, has interactive games and more. (U.S. Air Force graphic)

Blog Note: Santa Claus has released his flight plan. Here are the "keps" for those who wish to track the reindeer. The flight begins at 2000 Z on 24 December, at the North Pole, proceeds over central Europe, and will reach the East coast of the USA at 0030 Z.

1 00001U 00001A 07358.83333333 .00000038 00000-0 00000-0 0 0007
2 00001 089.9500 233.3808 0012602 180.0000 270.0000 15.00000000020072

Members of North American Aerospace Defense Command are gearing up to track Santa Claus' travels on Christmas Eve, providing detailed information about his whereabouts on the command's Web site and through a toll-free telephone line.

Gen. Victor E. Renuart Jr., commander of NORAD and U.S. Northern Command, provided a tongue-in-cheek assessment of the Santa-tracking mission.

He reported a "consistent phenomenon" the command has tracked for decades.

"Sometime around the 24th of December, this individual begins to take flight, and he makes a very rapid trip around the globe," he said.

When Continental Air Defense Command, NORAD's predecessor, first took notice of this flight in the 1950s, "there was a great concern, because we didn't know if this was a threat to our country and to free nations around the world," General Renuart said. "What we found is, this gentleman brings good everywhere he goes."

NORAD's system to track this person has evolved over the years, refined through the use of radar systems, satellite sensors and communications and interactive information technologies, he said, "so we can precisely, at any time along his flight, identify his location, ensure he has the proper protection and ... he can complete his mission on time."

The NORAD elves are looking forward to tracking Santa again this year, General Renuart said. From 2 a.m. Mountain Time Dec. 24 through 2 a.m. Mountain Time Christmas Day, they'll track his progress, posting details on the command's Web site at

"At any time in this process, they can find out where Santa is and when he should be into their area," General Renuart said.

In addition, children can call the NORAD hotline at 877-HI-NORAD toll-free to check up on Santa. Translators will be on hand to report on his travels in six different languages, General Renuart said. They'll also remind children that Santa can't come to their houses if they're awake, he said.

"It's an amazing planning process Santa goes through to arrive in each part of the world after the children have gone to sleep to ensure that he can review whether they have been good or bad, naughty or nice, and reward them appropriately," General Renuart said. "So it's a mission we take very seriously, and we are looking forward to it."

The Santa-tracking mission dates back to 1955, after an ad in a local newspaper printed an incorrect number for Santa Claus that sent callers to the Continental Air Defense Command operations center. Its commander, Col. Harry Shoup, started the tradition of tracking Santa, a mission NORAD assumed in 1958.

Last year, the command's Santa-tracking Web site received more than 941 million page views from 210 countries and territories, NORAD officials reported. In addition, 756 volunteers answered more than 65,000 calls to the toll-free phone line.

While enjoying the levity of the mission, General Renuart turned serious to extend thoughts and prayers to young men and women deployed in harm's way around the world and to their families who will spend the holidays without their loved ones.

"This is a difficult time in our country's history as we continue to struggle against this rash of violent extremism around the world," he said. "We've got great members of our military who have given selflessly of themselves. But importantly, their families have given selflessly as well, and our thoughts and prayers go out to them."

"We wish them all the best in this holiday season," he said. "We want them to be safe, and we want them to return home safely just as soon as this mission allows."

Meanwhile, Renuart assured that NORAD and NORTHCOM people will continue carrying out their mission to ensure troops their families are protected and that, if disaster strikes in their communities, they are ready to respond.

"We take this job very seriously, and we are committed to make sure that when they arrive home safely, they come back to a safe home, as well," he said.

US Army Announces Stationing Decisions

The U.S. Army announced Dec. 19 unit stationing decisions to support the President's plan to grow the Army by 74,200 Soldiers across all three Army components. This growth includes the stationing of six new infantry brigade combat teams, eight support brigades in the active component, and associated growth in smaller combat support and combat service support units required to complement the U.S. Army's overall force-structure growth.

The foundation for this stationing plan is implementation of Base Realignment and Closure-directed realignments. This plan relocates the 1st Armored Division from Germany to Fort Bliss Texas, and the 1st Infantry Division from Germany to Fort Riley, Kan., and Fort Knox, Ky., by September 2011. The plan extends brigade combat team capabilities in the European command for an additional two years through the activation of two brigade combat teams in Germany in 2008 and 2010. This supports near-term theater security needs, and reduces stress and turbulence on Soldiers and Families by allowing needed time for construction to support transformation, BRAC realignments, and Grow the Army stationing.

The Army currently has 42 Active Component brigade combat teams. Complying with the Record of Decision for the Army's Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement, the Army will grow six infantry brigade combat teams for a total of 48 by: retaining one infantry brigade combat team at Fort Carson, Colo., as the 43rd Brigade Combat Team (Fiscal Year 2008); activating the 44th Brigade Combat Team at Fort Bliss, Texas, in Fiscal Year 2009; converting one heavy brigade combat team to an infantry brigade combat team at Fort Stewart, Ga. in Fiscal Year 2010; and growing three infantry brigade combat teams in Fiscal Year 2011, one each at Fort Stewart, Ga.(46th BCT), Fort Carson, Colo. (47th BCT), and Fort Bliss, Texas (48th BCT). The two brigade combat teams stationed in Germany for two years will relocate in Fiscal Year 2012 and 2013 respectively. These units tentatively are to go to Fort Bliss, Texas, and White Sands Missile Range, N.M.

The Army will also activate eight active component support brigades and restation two others as part of rebalancing the force at the following locations: In Fiscal Year 08, an air defense artillery brigade headquarters activates at Fort Hood, Texas, and an engineer brigade headquarters activates at Schofield Barracks, Hawaii; in Fiscal Year 2009, a maneuver enhancement brigade activates at Fort Leonard Wood, Mo; in Fiscal Year 2010 a fires brigade activates at Fort Bliss, Texas, and a maneuver enhancement brigade will be restationed to Fort Richardson, Alaska, pending completion of supplemental environmental analysis in accordance with the National Environmental Policy Act; in Fiscal Year 2011, an expeditionary sustainment command headquarters activates at Fort Lewis, Wash., and a sustainment brigade activates at Fort Hood, Texas; in Fiscal Year 2013, a military police brigade will be retained at Schofield Barracks, Hawaii, a battlefield surveillance brigade activates at Fort Polk, La., and a maneuver enhancement brigade will be restationed to Fort Drum, N.Y.

To support these six infantry brigade combat teams and eight support brigades, the Army simultaneously is announcing the stationing of approximately 30,000 Soldiers in combat support and combat service support units throughout the United States as well as various overseas locations. The details are contained in a report directed by the Fiscal Year 2007 Emergency Supplemental Appropriations' Act requiring the Secretary of Defense to submit a stationing plan to support Army Growth.

1st Cav transfers authority of MND-B to 4th Inf. Div.

BY Sgt. Jason Thompson, 4th Inf. Div. PAO

CAMP LIBERTY, Iraq - Under the clear, morning skies of a promising new day in Baghdad, the 4th Infantry Division took the reins of Multi-National Division -- Baghdad from the 1st Cavalry Division during a transfer of authority ceremony here Dec. 19.

The ceremony honored the hard work and sacrifices of the departing 'First Team,' and looked forward to future challenges and successes soon to be earned by the 'Ivy Division.'

Presiding over the ceremony was Lt. Gen. Raymond Odierno, commanding general, Multi-National Corps -- Iraq.

Odierno said that the battle in Iraq changed significantly during the last year and the success could be directly linked to the 1st Cav. Div.'s efforts in and around Baghdad.

"Significant events are often a result of the right people being in the right place at the right time," said Odierno. "In the case of Baghdad in 2006 and 2007, the right people were the magnificent men and women of Multi-National Division - Baghdad and their dedicated Iraqi Security Force partners."

Odierno said all Soldiers of the First Team should be proud of what they accomplished during their tenure in Baghdad. He said the Soldiers had a direct positive impact on the Iraqi people's day-to-day lives, which is apparent by the increased activity in all the Baghdad market places, traffic on the streets, numerous soccer games played in all the local neighborhoods, and the smiles on the children's faces.

"The biggest success was the complete, full partnership they formed with their counterparts in the Iraqi Army, National Police, station police, patrol police and local leaders," continued Odierno. "Because of their shared concern, genuine care and daily engagement, they earned the trust and confidence of Baghdad's people. In turn, it sparked a grassroots movement among the millions of residents and empowered them to feel in control of their own destiny."

The 1st Cav. Div. commander then addressed the audience of Iraqi and Coalition leaders, looking back on a year's worth of successes and sacrifices by his MND-B forces.

"Although the cost has been high, and the toll on the lives on our Soldiers has been great, our cause was just and noble, and we have prevailed," said Maj. Gen. Joseph Fil, Jr., as he somberly addressed the crowd. "We have fought together, side by side, and have won every time. Our Soldiers know it, and the enemy knows it. There is not a place in Baghdad where the enemy feels free or a place to call his home."

Fil then thanked the Iraqi Army soldiers that the success of the First Team came with a partnership between the Iraqi and Coalition Forces.

"We have done this in partnership. Whatever progress we have made, whatever success we have secured, is a testimony to that partnership and the result of our combined strengths."

With the colors of his division cased and ready to accompany him home, Fil's thoughts were focused on the efforts of his Soldiers and on the continued success of the 4th Inf. Div.

"As with always at the end of a challenging tour, we leave with mixed emotions. It is quite reassuring to know that we are handing the battle over to such a capable division, and that's the Steadfast and Loyal 4th Inf. Div. led by the supreme command team of Maj. Gen. Jeff Hammond and Command Sgt. Maj. John Gioia.

"I'm leaving totally confident that you'll be able to quickly build and expand upon the efforts and that the Ironhorse Soldiers are ready for the tests that lie ahead."

With the clear, crisp notes of the 4th Inf. Div. Ironhorse Band accompanying the ceremony, Fil passed on the mantle of MND-B with pride for his Soldiers and optimism for his successors.

Maj. Gen. Jeffery Hammond, commanding general, 4th Inf. Div., uncased his colors and assumed command of the MND-B mission as the division colors changed position in the honor guard procession.

"As we, the 4th Inf. Div., return to Baghdad for our third deployment, we truly feel we have two homes. One in Fort Hood, Texas, and our other is clearly here in Baghdad. We look forward to once again serving with our Iraqi brothers.

With obvious pride in the troops of his new command, Hammond closed by thanking the 1st Cav. Div. for their great efforts in providing a smooth transition with the 4th Inf. Div. and took a moment to recognize all the forces that make up MND-B.

"To Maj. Gen. Fil and the 1st Cav. Div., magnificent job. Your Steadfast and Loyal efforts have improved security across Baghdad, but more important, I see hope for the future. We must build on this and continue progress. We still face determined enemies who threaten peace and security. There is still much work ahead. Our job, alongside our Iraqi counterparts, is to provide stable security and set conditions for improving life in Baghdad.

"This, we will do as a team.

"It is my honor to represent the men and women of Multi-National Division - Baghdad. Steadfast and Loyal."

Newly formed aviation task force assumes mission in MND-B

BY Sgt. 1st Class Chris Seaton, Task Force XII Public Affairs Office

CAMP TAJI, Iraq - U.S. Army Europe's 12th Combat Aviation Brigade, organized in Iraq as Task Force XII, officially assumed the mission as the Multi-National Division-Baghdad aviation asset at a ceremony here Dec. 17.

The brigade, led by its commander Col. Timothy Edens, officially transferred authority from 1st Air Cavalry Brigade, 1st Cav. Div. at one minute after midnight Dec. 18.

Task Force XII had been serving in Iraq for the past five months at Logistics Support Area Anaconda as the Multi-National Corps-Iraq aviation brigade. In support of the initiative to bring troop strength in Iraq back to pre-surge levels, Task Force XII was directed to move a portion of its assets to MND-B, joining with Soldiers from the 4th Squadron, 3rd Air Cavalry Regiment from Fort Hood, Texas to create a new aviation Task Force in theater.

"During our training prior to deployment, and our experience as the corps aviation brigade for the first five months in theater we've prepared for the flexibility and capability we are now called on to demonstrate," Edens said in remarks to Task Force XII Soldiers during the ceremony. "Think and execute ... You are ready and up to the task."

The 1st ACB, led by Col. Dan Shanahan, served 15 months in Baghdad. Their time in Iraq saw a notable reduction in violence, and tremendous progress in creating a stable Iraq, Shanahan said.

"The mission has gone better than any of us could have expected," he said. "Personally, I could not have been any prouder. I have a good feeling about the way aviation is postured here in Multi-National Division-Baghdad."

Edens expressed his gratitude to the Soldiers of the 1st ACB, and challenged his own Soldiers to continue their legacy.

"You've led a magnificent unit, and left huge 'cav. troopers' boots to fill," he said. "God bless you and keep you as you now return home to a well deserved First Team welcome."

Finally, a great FCC ULS search template has been found

The FCC is constantly screwing up, uh, I mean tweaking their ULS database search templates. As I have said on numerous occasions, if it ain't broke don't waste the taxpayers money by trying to fix it. Well finally one of the readers of this blog has passed along a search template I feel worthy of posting to this blog and adding to our Radio Reference Library Links.

So if you need to do some searching of the FCC database (no federal or military freqs in it), then point your browser to:

This template will give you more search flexiblity than any other I have seen posted around the Internet. It the only FCC template I have bookmarked. So I have a holiday message to those government employees responsible for designing these templates:

"Leave this one alone. Don't change a thing. It isn't broke now. Savey?"

Saturday, December 22, 2007

New Unidentified HF ALE Net Information Available

If you like chasing a true radio mystery then I have just the thing for you. Over on my Btown Monitoring Post Blog are some interesting post from my good friend Sam in Europe regarding several HF ALE networks, including an Arab Voice/ALE network. How about taking a look and if you have some insight, I would really appreciate some email. I am sure a few of you intel types who read these pages might enjoy a good challenge.

Specific links are included below for the various articles I have posted.

73 de Chief

Boeing to Build a Sixth Wideband Global SATCOM Satellite

The Boeing Company [NYSE: BA] announced that the U.S. Air Force has exercised an option for a sixth Wideband Global SATCOM (WGS) satellite and has authorized Boeing to begin construction. The Commonwealth of Australia is funding the procurement as part of a cooperative agreement between the U.S. and Australian governments. The satellite is expected to launch in the fourth quarter of 2012.

"This is a unique, win-win arrangement between the Australian and U.S. governments, and Boeing is honored to support it," said Howard Chambers, vice president and general manager of Boeing Space and Intelligence Systems. "A sixth WGS satellite adds to the system's overall capacity and flexibility and will benefit both U.S. armed forces and our allies."

A memorandum of understanding signed by both governments on Nov. 14 adds Australian Defence Force access to WGS services worldwide in exchange for funding the constellation's sixth satellite. The advance procurement contract enables Boeing to obtain long-lead materials for the satellite. The six WGS satellites are valued at US$1.8 billion, which includes associated ground-based payload command and control systems, mission unique software and databases, satellite simulators, logistics support and operator training. Boeing also performs final satellite processing and preparations for launch, as well as initial orbital operations and on-orbit testing.

"The WGS program office is very excited about this new partnership," said Col. Donald W. Robbins, U.S. Air Force commander, Wideband SATCOM Group. "We look forward to fielding the sixth WGS satellite."

The sixth WGS satellite, a Block II version, will carry the radio frequency (RF) bypass capability designed to support airborne intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance platforms requiring additional bandwidth. The RF bypass supports data rates of up to 311 Megabits per second, more than 200 times faster than most cable or DSL connections. Boeing will design and manufacture the 702 model spacecraft at its satellite factory in El Segundo, Calif.

A United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket successfully launched the first WGS satellite Oct. 10 from Cape Canaveral Air Force Base, Fla. It is now in geosynchronous orbit undergoing rigorous testing and is expected to begin service in the first quarter of 2008.

Delta II with GPS payload successfully launches

A Delta II rocket carrying a Global Positioning System satellite successfully launches Dec. 21 from Space Launch Complex 17A at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla. The satellite will join the constellation of on-orbit satellites providing global coverage and increased performance of the GPS services to users worldwide. (Courtesy photo/Carleton Bailie)

Blog Note:
Satellite/Payload Name: NAVSTAR 61 (USA 199)
Launch Date/Time: 12-20-2007 2004 UTC
Launch Site/Pad: Air Force Eastern Test Range, Cape Canaveral AFS, FL, LC17A
Launcher: Delta II:
International Designator: 2007-062A
NORAD SSC #: 32384

CAPE CANAVERAL AIR FORCE STATION, Fla. (AFPN) -- Air Force space technicians successfully launched a United Launch Alliance Delta II booster Dec. 21 carrying the fifth modernized NAVSTAR Global Positioning System satellite into space. The NAVSTAR GPS was launched at 3:04 p.m. EST from Space Launch Complex 17A here.

The satellite will join the constellation of on-orbit satellites providing global coverage and increased performance of the GPS services to users worldwide. The modernized series delivers increased signal power to receivers on the ground, two new military signals for improved accuracy, enhanced encryption and anti-jamming capabilities for the military, and a second civil signal to provide users with an open access signal on a different frequency.

"Today's launch moves us another step closer to modernizing the vital GPS constellation, which provides combat effects our warfighters depend on," said Brig. Gen. Susan Helms, 45th Space Wing commander.

GPS is the world's foremost space-based positioning and navigation system. Endeavors such as mapping, aerial refueling, rendezvous operations, geodetic surveying and search and rescue operations all have benefited from GPS's accuracy.

The GPS constellation provides critical situational awareness and precision weapon guidance for the military and supports a wide range of civil, scientific and commercial functions -- from air traffic control to the Internet -- with precision location and timing information. Every satellite in the constellation was launched from here.

"The Global Positioning System has become an integral part of all of our lives -- for the members supporting the Global War on Terror and their families who support them," said Tech. Sgt. Will McCormick, a Delta II electrical engineering assistant with the 1st Space Launch Squadron. "It is truly an honor to play even a small part in providing this capability."

And from AGI Launch Notification service amd Spaceflight Now, "Final Delta launch of 2007 lofts new GPS satellite"

"A productive year for the Delta rocket program that launched spacecraft to observe Earth, dig up frozen water on Mars and explore uncharted worlds in the asteroid belt was capped with a successful ascent of a modernized GPS navigation satellite on Thursday afternoon from Cape Canaveral.

The year's finale began at 3:04 p.m. EST as the Delta 2 booster darted away from pad 17A carrying the newest craft for the Global Positioning System.

The three-stage launcher propelled the 4,500-pound satellite into a highly elliptical orbit reaching about 11,000 miles at the high point, 100 miles at the lowest and inclined 40 degrees to the equator. The Lockheed Martin-made satellite was released from the spent rocket 68 minutes after liftoff."

"A solid-propellant kick motor on the satellite itself will fire in a few days to circularize its orbit at 11,000 miles and increase the inclination to 55 degrees where the GPS constellation flies. The craft should be ready to enter service within a couple of weeks."

"Controllers will maneuver the $75 million craft into the Plane C, Slot 1 position of the constellation to take the place of GPS 2A-24. That satellite then moves into another role replacing the ailing GPS 2A-20 satellite, which was launched in May 1993 and has long outlived its seven-year design life."

"The GPS 2R-18 spacecraft is the fifth in a series of eight with enhanced features designed to rejuvenate the GPS constellation."

C-17 polar airdrop capability successful

by Lt. Col. Toni Kemper, 13th Air Force Public Affairs

Supplies airdropped by a McChord Air Force Base, Wash., C-17 Globemaster III land at a drop zone at the South Pole Dec. 18. By validating the C-17 capability to complete airdrop missions at the Geographical South Pole, Joint Task Force-Support Forces Antarctica demonstrated its ability to provide mid-winter emergency re-supply and flexible support to the National Science Foundation and U.S. Antarctica Program. (U.S. Air Force photo)

Blog editor note: You can get frequencies to monitor activity at Antarctica on this message posted here on the Milcom Monitoring Post.

HICKAM AIR FORCE BASE, Hawaii (AFPN) -- During the winter season at the South Pole, temperatures often dip as low as minus 100 F and can paralyze an aircraft's hydraulic systems, crystallize the fuel and solidify lubricants.

However, freezing temperatures did not deter Joint Task Force-Support Forces Antarctica Operation Deep Freeze crews and support personnel from validating the C-17 Globemaster III's polar airdrop capability by successfully airdropping 22,372 pounds of supplies to the South Pole Dec. 18.

Twenty containerized delivery system bundles were delivered in two passes of 10 bundles each. The mission was a combined effort of JTF-SFA, 62nd Airlift Wing, 446th Airlift Wing, National Science Foundation and Raytheon Polar Services Corporation personnel.

Airdrop operations were executed at approximately 10,700 feet above sea level and crew members were on oxygen for the unpressurized airdrop sequence. Elevation at the South Pole is approximately 9,300 feet above sea level.

"This is an extremely challenging mission, both for the aircrew and the aircraft," said Lt. Col. Jim McGann, the commander of the 304th Expeditionary Airlift Squadron based in Christchurch, New Zealand. "But it's an absolute critical capability and a skill set we need to exercise on a regular basis to ensure we can execute an emergency airdrop on the South Pole within hours of an NSF request."

This is the second consecutive year that crews have demonstrated this capability. The first C-17 airdrop of supplies to the South Pole was successfully completed on Dec. 19, 2006. Approximately 70,000 pounds of supplies were delivered during that milestone mission.

"This mission is testimony to the flexibility and reach of airpower," said Lt. Gen. Loyd S. "Chip" Utterback, JTF-SFA commander. "The airlift, sealift and ground support capability executed by an integrated total force team operating in an unforgiving and unique environment make Operation Deep Freeze a one-of-a-kind mission."

By validating the C-17 capability to complete airdrop missions at the Geographical South Pole, JTF-SFA demonstrated its ability to provide mid-winter emergency re-supply and flexible support to the National Science Foundation and U.S. Antarctica Program. The ability to airdrop supplies using the C-17 versus the LC-130 Hercules, which is the traditional platform used to airland supplies on the ice, allows aircrews to deliver up to four times as much supplies in a single airdrop mission in conditions that do not allow airland missions.

The extreme temperature, around-the-clock darkness and crosswinds up to 60 miles per hour create blizzard conditions and zero visibility, making it impossible for an aircraft to land.

Operation Deep Freeze is a unique 13th Air Force-led joint and total force mission that has supported the NSF and USAP since 1955. The 2007-2008 season kicked off Aug. 20. C-17 flights from Christchurch staged essential personnel and equipment at McMurdo station to prepare the ice runway for the main C-17 and LC-130 operations which began Oct. 2. Main season resupply consists of C-17 intercontinental flights between Christchurch and McMurdo and LC-130 flights from McMurdo to the South Pole and other camps throughout Antarctica.

As of Dec. 17, C-17s have delivered 2,689,462 pounds of cargo and passengers to McMurdo, and LC-130s have delivered 3,966,416 pounds of cargo, fuel and passengers to research facilities throughout Antarctica. Vessel resupply operations begin in January when Military Sealift Command vessels deliver fuel and supplies to McMurdo Port.

Operation Deep Freeze is unlike any other U.S. military operation and is one of the most demanding peacetime missions due to the extreme adversity of the environment and the remoteness of Antarctica. Antarctica is the coldest, windiest, driest, highest and most inhospitable continent on the globe.

The U.S. military is uniquely equipped to assist the National Science Foundation in the accomplishment of its mission to explore Antarctica, and the 613th Air and Space Operations Center at Hickam has the capability to provide joint operational and logistics support to the NSF around the clock. Operation Deep Freeze involves active-duty and reserve C-17s from McChord Air Force Base, Wash., New York Air National Guard ski-equipped LC-130s, U.S. Coast Guard and/or commercial icebreakers, and the U.S. Navy Cargo Handling Battalion One provides port services at McMurdo Station.

A drop zone controller guides the C-17 Globemaster III aircrew members during the containerized delivery system airdrop of supplies Dec. 18 to the South Pole. By validating the C-17 capability to complete airdrop missions at the Geographical South Pole, Joint Task Force-Support Forces Antarctica demonstrated its ability to provide mid-winter emergency re-supply and flexible support to the National Science Foundation and U.S. Antarctica Program. (U.S. Air Force photo)

Friday, December 21, 2007

Maulers Make Final Homecoming

By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Brian Smarr, Fleet Public Affairs Center Det. Southeast

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (NNS) -- The "Maulers" of Sea Control Squadron (VS) 32 ended their final deployment aboard USS Enterprise (CVN 65) by returning to Naval Air Station (NAS) Jacksonville, Fla., Dec. 15.

The arrival back to NAS Jacksonville marks the last deployment for an S-3 Viking squadron, as the aircraft will be phased out of service at the end of 2008.

VS-32 Commanding Officer, Cmdr. Doug Walker, was impressed with the squadron's performance during their deployment.

"For us it meant a lot to be able to be that last deployer," he said. "We were proud to go out there and do the missions that Vikings do everyday."

While VS-32 conducted their sunset cruise embarked on Enterprise as a component of Carrier Air Wing (CVW) One, they supported ground forces in Afghanistan and Iraq by conducting maritime security operations.

During the deployment, the squadron made several career milestones. They flew 960 sorties, which totaled more than 2,200 flight hours with more than 950 carrier landings and were at sea for 180 days with only 13 days in port.

First P-8A Poseidon Begins Production

By Kristine Wilcox, PMA-290 Communications

PATUXENT RIVER, Md. (NNS) -- The U.S. Navy and its Poseidon industry team marked the beginning of the P-8A production at a ceremony hosted by Spirit AeroSystems Wichita, Kan., facility, Dec. 11.

The P-8A is the first Navy aircraft to be produced on an existing commercial production line.

"It has been a long time coming, but the P-8A is a reality," said Capt. Joe Rixey, Maritime Patrol and Reconnaissance Aircraft program manager. "I can't be more proud of the partnership between the Navy and Poseidon industry team. They have worked hard to design an aircraft that will replace the legendary P-3C Orion and take our warfighters into the next generation of maritime patrol."

The team loaded the first P-8A fuselage component into a holding fixture on the factory floor during the ceremony attended by Navy program leadership, Spirit employees and representatives from Boeing Commercial Airplanes and Boeing Integrated Defense Systems.

The P-8A fuselage, a derivative of Boeing's Next Generation 737-800, will be built at Spirit then shipped to Boeing Commercial Airplanes in Renton, Wash., for wing assemblies.

"Starting production of the first aircraft is a significant milestone for the P-8A program as we remain focused and committed to delivering this critical weapons system to the fleet on schedule," said Capt. Mike Moran, P-8A Poseidon program lead.

The P-8A, designed to replace the Fleet's P-3C aircraft, is a long-range anti-submarine warfare, anti-surface warfare, intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance aircraft capable of broad-area maritime operations. It will be equipped with an advanced mission system designed for maximum interoperability in the future battle space. The U.S. Navy plans to purchase 108 P-8A aircraft.Initial operating capability is scheduled for 2013, with full operational capability planned for 2019.

Navy Modernizes Amphibious Ships and Hovercraft

By Dan Broadstreet, Naval Surface Warfare Center Panama City Division Public Affairs

PANAMA CITY, Fla. (NNS) -- Invisible to approximately 5,000 people witnessing the USS Mesa Verde (LPD 19) commissioning ceremony, Dec. 15, a newly modernized landing craft air cushion (LCAC) 39 sat certified and ready for transport within the well deck of the Navy's newest amphibious ship.

Mesa Verde had already finished its requisite LCAC certification Dec. 7, which qualify the ship to recover an LCAC and embark on the ship's mission of transporting Marines, their supplies, and equipment, according to Naval Surface Warfare Center (NSWC) Panama City Division Project Engineer Rhett Plash. Plash works with NSWC PCD LCAC in-service engineering activity and operations.

"We're actually a part of the team that performs well deck certifications," Plash said.

Plash called it a "lift of opportunity," putting LCAC 39 aboard the Mesa Verde to be ferried to the hovercraft's home-port destination, Assault Craft Unit Four (ACU) 4 located at Naval Amphibious Base Little Creek, Norfolk.

The LCAC had also recently undergone required acceptance testing to verify it was upgraded and ready to release to the fleet, according to NSWC PCD Electrical Engineer, Ivan Lugo.

"We are responsible for the LCAC service life extension program (SLEP)," Lugo said, adding that NSWC PCD provides design, development, and integration for LCAC equipment and software. Lugo said the current SLEP is structured to extend the service of the LCAC to the year 2025.

The fact that both platforms, Mesa Verde and LCAC 39, are modernized with cutting-edge technology and scheduled for entry into active Navy service contributed to a "satisfying and unique situation," according to members from ACU-4.

"Mesa Verde is the newest way to fight today's kind of war; and, the new SLEP LCACs are modernized to do the same," said Hull Technician 2nd Class Jacob Peterson, ACU-4. "So, married together, we can do that job even better because of the technological improvements that have been incorporated into both platforms."

The LCAC's improvements extend to both performance and comfort according to ACU-4's Craftmaster, Chief Postal Clerk (SW) Charles Moore.

"Not only has air-conditioning been added to our LCAC command modules, but we've gone to the LED screens and LED keyboards, which don't generate as much heat as the old Cathode Ray Tubes and the bulb-type indicators did," Moore said.

Design improvements to both LCAC and Mesa Verde have made life much better for everyone working with LCAC operations. According to the Sailors, the Navy's attention to their quality of life and work environments is aptly appreciated.

Potomac TRACON ADIZ Freqs

According to an FAA notice released yesterday, Potomac TRACON has added the following freqs for the Washington DC area:

ADIZ East Sector 132.775/342.425 MHz

ADIZ South Sector 125.125/291.775 MHz

ADIZ West Sector 127.325/236.775 MHz

Thursday, December 20, 2007

US Military HF ALE Nets - Europe/Middle East/Afghanistan

The information below is courtesy of my good friend Sam in Europe. Thanks Sam for sharing this with my Milcom Blog readers. As always any updates, additions or corrections are always appreciated. You can send them to the email address in the masthead. If you have something you want to contribute, please send it along. Anonymous contributions remain that way.

US Military Units Deployed Europe/Middle – East and Afghanistan 2007

3896.0 4419.0 4451.0 5118.0 5135.0 5296.5 5337.0 5500.0 5542.0 5602.0 5732.0 5750.0 6400.0 6486.0 6560.0 6906.0 7003.0 7839.0 7905.4 8000.0 8003.0 8056.0 8057.0 8171.5 8714.0 8950.5 9013.3 9036.0 9044.0 9066.0 9190.0 9295.0 10134.0 11047.6 16077.0

ALE Addresses
P1Z131 9036

P1Z6 not monitored (6486 cld by T2Z1)

P2Z3 not monitored (cld by R4618, 4740 and 4749)

T1CAB: 6486 7839
1st Infantry Division's "1st Combat Aviation Brigade"; based Fort Riley, KS; deployed to Iraq

T1Z1 5542 6486

T1Z3: 6486 7839
3rd Infantry Division/3rd Aviation Brigade's "1st Battalion (Attack), 3rd Aviation Regiment (1-3 AVN)" Hunter AAF, Ft. Stewart, GA; deployed to Iraq

T1Z82 6486 7839 11047.6
1st Bn 82nd Avn

T1Z108 6906 7839
1st Bn 108th Avn

T1Z131 4419 5118 5602 9036
1st Bn 131st Avn

T1Z149 5602
1st Bn 149th Avn

T1Z168 not monitored (cld by R23439)

T25 6486 7839 8714 8950.5 11047.6

T236AA 3896
236th Med Co

T2Z1: 5542 6486 7839 8950.5
1st Infantry Division/4th Brigade Combat Team: "2nd Battalion, 1st Aviation Regiment (2-1 AVN) of Fort Riley, KS; deployed to Iraq

T2Z25 6486 7839 8950.5 11047.6
2nd Bn 25th Avn

T2Z135 6906 7839
2nd Bn 135th Avn Branch: Army National Guard. Part of: 36th Combat Aviation Brigade
V Corps (Fwd) MNF-Iraq Garrison/HQ: LSA Anaconda, Iraq and Buckley Air Force Base, Colorado

T2Z147 7839
2nd Bn 147th Avn Minnesota Army National Guard's "2nd Assault Helicopter Battalion, 147th Regiment (2-147 AHB), based St. Paul, MN; deployed to Iraq

T2Z159 7839

T2Z227 5750 6400

T2Z238 5750 6400 7905.4 9066
2nd Bn 238th Avn

T2Z3: 6486 7839 8950.5
3rd Infantry Division/3rd Aviation Brigade's "2nd Battalion, 3rd Aviation Regiment (2-3 AVN)" of Hunter AAF, Fort Stewart, GA; deployed to Iraq

T2Z3MED: 7839

T3CAB: 7839
3rd Infantry Division's "3rd Combat Aviation Brigade", based Fort Stewart, GA; deployed to Iraq

T3Z1: 6486 7839
3rd Bn 1st Avn

T3Z25 5542 6486 7839 8950.5 11047.6
3rd Bn 25th Avn 3-25th AVN, Camp Speicher/Tikrit (Iraq)

T3Z126 9044
3rd Bn 126th Avn

T3Z158 9036.5

T3Z227 9066

T4Z3 not monitored (cld by R6513)

45th Med Co Al Asad Air Base/Iraq (33° 47' 8N / 42° 26' 28E)

T5B159 9295

T5Z158/T01158 5602 8056

T01024 5554.5 7003 8003

T01147 5554.5 7003 8003 9013.3
1-147th AVN Camp Bondsteel, SCG

T01185: 5554.5 7003 8003 9013.3
1st Assault Battalion, 185th Aviation Mississippi Army NG

TC1111 5296.5 8000 8714 10134 11047.6

TC2135 5296.5 7839 8000 8714 10134 11047.6

TC2Z3: 8000.0 8714
C/2-3 AVN (based Hunter AAF, Fort Stewart, GA)

TC7101: 5296.5 8000 8714
7-101 AVN of Fort Campbell, KY (deployed to KFOR/Kosovo ?)

TC2Z3 not monitored (cld by R4618)

ANLFT not monitored (cld by R23558)

DESOPS: 6560
Arizona Army NG, "TF Desert Hawk" [Task Force Desert Hawk], FOB Salerno [Camp Salerno/Forward Operating Base Salerno], Khowst Province, AFG

Ohio Army NG - Columbus, OH (reported one time more detailed as the "73rd Troup Command)

TALOPS: 5500 9190
Texas Army NG, "TF Talon" [Task Force Talon], Bagram, AFG

COROPS: 9190
"TF Corsair" [Task Force Corsair], Khandahar Airfield, AFG

MEDOPS: 9190
Task Force, maybe Texas Army NG, 36th Infantry Division, "TF MED FALCON" [Task Force Med Falcon], Kosovo ?

“R” Series Aeronautical Mobile Called

4618 Unkown P2Z3 and TC2Z3
4740 ,, P2Z3
4749 ,, P2Z3
5302 ,, T1Z3
5323 ,, T1Z3
5447 ,, T1Z1
6513 ,, T4Z3
6954 ,, T2Z3
00068 ,, T2Z1
00098 ,, T2Z135
00300 ,, T3Z25
00304 ,, T3Z25
00305 ,, T3Z25
00931 ,, T3Z25
05426 ,,
05438 ,,
05445 ,, T1Z82
05453 ,, T1Z82
22989 ,, T2Z25
22973 ,, T1Z108
79-23269 Sikorsky UH-60A Blackhawk T01147
23277 ,, T1Z131
23282 ,, TC1111
23349 ,, T2Z147
80-23422 Sikorsky UH-60A Blackhawk Croughton [CRO]
23433 ,, T2Z147
23435 ,, T1Z131
23439 ,, T1Z168
23448 ,, T01147
23499 ,, T2Z147
81-23553 Sikorsky UH-60A Blackhawk T2Z135
23558 ,, T01147 and ANLFT [?]
23574 ,, T01185
23593 ,, T2Z147
23608 ,, T1Z108
82-23625 Sikorsky UH-60A Blackhawk
23675 ,, T01147
23683 ,, TC1111
23739 ,, TC2135
83-23894 Sikorsky UH-60A Blackhawk T01185
23932 ,, T3Z25
84-23966 Sikorsky UH-60A Blackhawk T01147
23981 ,, T1Z131
84-24183 Boeing CH-47D Chinook T2Z135
85-24387 Sikorsky UH-60A Blackhawk T2Z147
24484 ,, T01147
24520 T01
87-24600 Sikorsky UH-60A Blackhawk T1Z108
24626 ,, TC7101
24648 ,,
88-26054 Sikorsky UH-60A Blackhawk T45MED
89-26135 Sikorsky UH-60A Blackhawk T2Z135
26159 P5Z158
26161 ,, T2Z135
91-26323 Sikorsky UH-60A Blackhawk T1Z108
96-26682 Sikorsky UH-60A Blackhawk
26684 ,, T3Z158
98-26805 Sikorsky UH-60A Blackhawk T3Z227
26808 ,, T3Z227
26825 ,, T3Z227
26851 Unknown T1Z108
27050 ,, T3Z227
27054 ,, T3Z227

Last A-10s Leaves Pope AFB

USAF Photo

The last three A-10 attack jets at Pope Air Force Base flew out Wednesday morning for their new home in Georgia. The jets, part of the 23rd Fighter Group, are relocating to Moody Air Force Base near Valdosta, Ga. The move is part of the federal Base Realignment and Closure law. The group's airplanes have been flying at Moody since September. The move is taking about 1,000 airmen away from Pope.

Gunston Hall, 22nd MEU Complete Exercise with Djibouti Navy

The amphibious dock landing ship USS Gunston Hall (LSD 44) and embarked elements of the 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) (Special Operations Capable [SOC]) completed bilateral exercise Image Nautilus 2007 with the Djibouti Navy, Dec. 18.

The exercise provided an opportunity to enhance interoperability and tactical proficiency between Djiboutian and U.S. forces, and demonstrated U.S. commitment to security in the region.

"Exercise Image Nautilus 2007 was a significant and important training opportunity for U.S. and Djiboutian forces," said Capt. Frank L. Ponds, Commander, Kearsarge Strike Group. "Not only did our forces maintain operational readiness and improve command, control, communications and intelligence interoperability, we also strengthened our relationship and demonstrated our resolve to regional security."

During the exercise, joint training and proficiency demonstrations were held in weapons firing; visit, board, search and seizure (VBSS) techniques; and small-boat handling. Marines and Djiboutians trained side-by-side, conducting vehicle mounted patrols, foot patrols, fin-swim training, and desert familiarization training.

"The training between the Marines and Djiboutians is important, because it not only sharpens our military skills, it fosters friendships and provides a greater understanding of how we can better operate together," said Capt. Dennis O'Donnell, company commander for Kilo Company, 3rd Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment, 22nd MEU (SOC). "The Marines were glad to have this unique opportunity to train with a professional military like the Djiboutian forces."

Off the coast of Djibouti, the U.S. Navy and Djibouti Navy practiced VBSS procedures. These types of techniques are important to keeping international shipping lanes safe from criminal use and further enhancing the prosperity and stability in the region.

"U.S. and Djiboutian forces gained a lot from working with one another," said Ens. Eric Handal, Gunston Hall's VBSS training officer. "All the participants were eager to share their experiences and knowledge, and I'm certain our ability to work together on any future military mission improved because of this training."

In local Djiboutian communities, Marines and Sailors from the 22nd MEU (SOC) and Gunston Hall also conducted several community relations events. They installed a water tank in Nagad, built a sun shade in Chabellier, painted a school in Douda and repaired the school's electrical boxes.

"Whenever there is an opportunity to assist those in need, we are glad to help," said Lt. Col. Mark R. Hollahan, commanding officer, Combat Logistics Battalion 22, 22nd MEU (SOC). "The Djiboutians were very receptive to our assistance, and we know our efforts were appreciated – it was evident in the smiling faces of the local Djiboutians."

Gunston Hall and 22nd MEU (SOC) are currently on a regularly-scheduled deployment supporting maritime security operations (MSO) with the Kearsarge Strike Group.

MSO help set the conditions for security and stability in the maritime environment, as well as complement the counterterrorism and security efforts of regional nations. These operations seek to disrupt violent extremists' use of the maritime environment as a venue for attack or to transport personnel, weapons or other material.

ENTSG Returns from Deployment

By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Joseph R. Wax, USS Enterprise Public Affairs

ABOARD USS ENTERPRISE (NNS) -- Enterprise Strike Group (ENTSG), led by the strike group commander, Rear Adm. Dan Holloway, returned to its homeport of Norfolk, Dec. 19 after a five-month deployment in support of Maritime Security Operations, Operations Iraqi Freedom (OIF) and Enduring Freedom (OEF), Iraqi oil platform protection, anti-piracy operations and the struggle against violent extremists.

The more than 5,500 Sailors and Marines aboard the USS Enterprise (CVN 65) traveled approximately 48,646 miles throughout the course of the deployment, doing everything from combat operations to diplomatic relations missions in the 6th and 5th fleet areas of responsibility (AOR).

"The Enterprise Strike Group team is at the top of their game," said Holloway. "They are all MVPs on a forward deployed all-star team. We are blessed with the best the Navy has to offer world wide. Our men, women, Sailors and Marines are the face of the Navy and the nation."

After getting underway on July 7, Enterprise and all of its embarked members traveled across the Atlantic Ocean and into the 6th Fleet AOR, where they hosted the French Chief of Naval Operations as well as the U.S. Ambassador to France to observe a historic landing and launch of a French Rafale F2 jet.

This was the first time a French strike aircraft had landed on board a U.S. carrier. Enterprise then became the first American carrier to pull into a French port in six years when it stopped for a three-day port visit in Cannes, France.

Enterprise then shifted its focus East to combat operations in the 5th Fleet area of responsibility in support of OIF and OEF, where it would spend 55 straight days at sea before making the first of its three port calls in Jebel Ali, United Arab Emirates.

During its time in combat, ENTSG aircraft flew more than 7,500 missions and made more than 6,500 arrested landings. In support of the troops on the ground, ENTSG pilots dropped 73 air-to-ground weapons and fired 4,149 rounds of 20mm ammunition.

"This was the second extended combat deployment for Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 1 in a mere 20 months and the team performed superbly," said Capt. Mark Wralstad, CVW-1 commander.

For members of the strike group's leadership, there was one event during the deployment that defined not only what ENTSG is all about, but also what the carriers bring to the Navy and the nation.

While conducting operations in the North Persian Gulf in support of OIF and OEF, Enterprise received an order to make an immediate change to the mission at hand.

"Admiral Holloway called me on the phone at 1:30 in the morning and said, 'Captain, after the helo (helicopter) lands, we need to turn south, out through the Straits of Hormuz, to conduct Operation Enduring Freedom flight ops,'" said Enterprise's Commanding Officer, Capt. Ron Horton. "Thirty-six hours after he made that call to me, we were launching aircraft into Afghanistan."

There are a lot of little things that need to be done to keep a warship like Enterprise and a strike group like ENTSG going throughout a deployment.

The Sailors and Marines on board completed 26 underway replenishments, receiving more than 12 million gallons of fuel; cooked and served approximately 4 million meals totaling more than $11 million; performed more than 4,200 preventative and corrective maintenance actions on the catapults and arresting gear to keep CVW-1 aircraft in the sky; transferred 3,960 pallets of cargo and hosted 303 distinguished visitors during 19 visits.

"The ability of our Sailors, in all the departments, to overcome the challenges is amazing," said Horton. "Because of the skill, the dedication and intestinal fortitude of this crew, we overcame every challenge."

The crew members of the ENTSG were able to accomplish more than just success in combat. Approximately 1,300 Navy College Program for Afloat College Education classes were completed; more than 300 Sailors were advanced; Sailors earned nearly 900 warfare pins and 304 Sailors reenlisted for almost $11 million in reenlistment bonuses.

However, nothing can be accomplished underway if things aren't being taken care of back at home. The leaders of ENTSG expressed their deepest, heartfelt gratitude to all family, friends and loved ones who's sacrifice and effort made the deployment possible.

"We want to thank all those families, loved ones and friends who have provided us their thoughtful prayers and loving and caring support during the entire 2007 year and especially during this combat deployment," said Holloway. "We could not sustain the level of focused, full spectrum combat operations without the enduring support of our loved ones. We thank them from the bottom of our heart. The loved ones at home allow us to focus so we can safely do our jobs as we serve this great nation."

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

"Screwtops" Return from Deployment

By Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class (SW) Tyler Jones, Fleet Public Affairs Center, Atlantic

Just in time for the holidays, the "Screwtops" of Carrier Airborne Early Warning Squadron (VAW) 123 returned home to Naval Station Norfolk Dec. 18, ending five months aboard the nuclear-powered aircraft carrier USS Enterprise (CVN 65).

VAW-123 is part of Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 1 and was deployed alongside the "Knighthawks" of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 136 and the Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 211 "Fighting Checkmates" who also returned Dec. 18 to their home at Naval Air Station Oceana in Virginia Beach, Va.

During the deployment, VAW-123 provided airborne command, control and communications using their E-2C Hawkeye fixed-wing aircraft.

"This deployment was very successful, both for the squadron and the air wing," said Cmdr. Terry Morris, commanding officer of VAW-123. "We helped play a part in (U.S. Central Command), but most importantly, we got everyone home safely."

Through the duration of the deployment, CVW 1 participated in strikes against enemy targets in both Iraq and Afghanistan in support of operations Iraqi and Enduring Freedom. In total, more than 7,500 missions were flown, 1,676 of those were combat missions.

Collectively, the aircraft delivered 36,500 pounds of air-to-ground ordnance and fired more than 4,000 rounds of 20mm ammunition. Crews flew a total of 20,300 hours and completed more than 6,500 arrest landings.

With VAW-123's mission complete, Lt. Cmdr. Kevin Downey, a flight officer attached to VAW-123, said he is relieved to be home with his family just as the holiday season hits full swing.

"This is a long-awaited day for me and my family," said Downey. "It feels awesome to be home, and I can't wait to go on vacation with my family."

The deployment was the second for CVW 1 in the past two years.

NASSG Completes Composite Unit Training Exercise

An AV-8B Harrier attached to the Air Combat Element of the 24 Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) taxis forward while a second Harrier lands just aft aboard the amphibious assault ship USS Nassau (LHA 4) during the Nassau's Composite Unit Training Exercise (COMPTUEX). (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Coleman Thompson)

Ships from the Nassau Strike Group (NASSG) returned to their homeports of Norfolk, Va., and Mayport, Fla., Dec. 15, after successfully completing its Composite Unit Training Exercise (COMPTUEX).

During the 17-day exercise, the strike group's seven ships and its Marine Landing Force from the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit (24th MEU) were tested through several scenarios that the NASSG may face when deployed. Broken into two phases, the exercise provided a realistic training environment that ensured effective and intense training, and further ensured that the joint forces of the NASSG are interoperable, capable, and ready to deploy on short notice.

The strike group completed the first, or "Green," phase On Dec. 7, which focused on Marine Corps-centric operations. In that phase, the 24th MEU received various simulated taskings designed to be similar to those they will receive during deployment. In these scenarios, the Navy team of the NASSG served in a supporting role to ensure the Marine-led missions were met with success.

During the second, or "Blue" phase, the Navy element of the strike group was put to the test on a variety of Navy-centric missions likely to be encountered during deployment. From maritime security and presence operations, to a simulated strait transit to employing the rapid response planning process, the scenarios allowed for the strike group to train as it would fight: in an open, littoral operational environment.

"COMPTUEX was the first opportunity for the Blue/Green team to bring together all the Sailors, Marines and equipment to train and be tested in the full range of operations that the Nassau Strike Group brings to a joint force commander," said Capt. Bob Lineberry, commander, Nassau Strike Group. "The challenge was to bring the team together rapidly and perform numerous complex missions."

Conducted by a training team led by Commander, Strike Force Training Atlantic (CSFTL), COMPTUEX ensured that the collective forces of the NASSG attained the greatest capability and are ready for deployment on short notice. In today's world, properly trained, combat-ready forces are essential and according to Capt. Tom Chassee, officer-in-charge of the CSFTL expeditionary strike group training team that oversaw the NASSG COMPTUEX, the strike group was graded to a "robust" certification standard.

"At the end of the day, our job is to train, evaluate and recommend an ESG as 'major combat operations-ready,'" said Chassee. "As Commander, Second Fleet sends an expeditionary strike group to the 'the tip of the spear,' we ensure that they have gone through all of the likely warfare scenarios that they are going to encounter while forward deployed."

Given the current, real-world operational environment, a special emphasis was placed on maritime security and presence operations. These operations are intended to set the conditions for security and stability of the maritime environment as well as complement the counterterrorism and security efforts of partner nations. These operations also deny international terrorists the use of the maritime environment as a venue for attack or to transport personnel, weapons, or other material and serve to preserve the freedom of sea-going navigation and free flow of commerce.

In order to replicate this environment, the NASSG employed the government-owned, civilian-crewed Training Support Vessel (TSV-1) Prevail to act as an opposing force (OPFOR) ship. The 224-foot ship is multifaceted to perform a wide array of military training missions that includes operational security monitoring, threat simulation, electronic warfare services, maritime interdiction operation training support, cryptologic training and mine laying/retrieval operations.

In most instances, the ship served as a realistic OPFOR platform for the NASSG's various Visit, Board, Search and Seizure (VBSS) teams that allowed teams to practice both compliant and non-compliant boarding operations. The ship also allowed strike group vessels to hone its warning shot/disabling fire (WSDF) skills and their ability to pull along side vessels for boarding operations.

"The best part about being out here is that it's as close to reality as we're going to get," said Ens. Gavin Whittle, USS Philippine Sea's (CG 58) lead boarding officer. "To be able to train as we fight is an excellent opportunity for our VBSS team to ensure mission readiness."

The goal of COMPTUEX is to get ships ready sooner, and ensure they remain ready longer to respond to missions as they arise. Training opportunities such as COMPTUEX enhance the preparedness of all personnel to jointly respond to threats. The strike group moves next into its final exercise, the Certification Exercise (CERTEX), in January.

"I am extremely pleased with the training and the scenarios our Sailors and Marines received during the past two weeks," said Lineberry. "The team performed well and we look forward to our final test in January prior to our deployment."

The NASSG is made up of amphibious assault ship USS Nassau (LHA 4); amphibious transport dock ship USS Nashville (LPD 13); amphibious dock landing ship USS Ashland (LSD 48); guided-missile cruiser USS Philippine Sea (CG 58); guided-missile destroyers USS Ross (DDG 71) and USS Bulkeley (DDG 84); the attack submarine USS Albany (SSN 753); and a Marine Landing Force from the 24th MEU.

Participating in COMPTUEX as a simulated coalition partner was USS Gonzalez (DDG 66), and participating as simulated opposition forces were guided-missile destroyer USS Farragut (DDG 99); and guided-missile frigates USS Klakring (FFG 42), USS Nicholas (FFG 47) and USS Hawes (FFG 53).

Currently preparing for its regularly scheduled 2008 deployment, the NASSG is made up of more than 5,000 Sailors and Marines, and projects sea power ashore by maintaining the capability of landing amphibious forces by helicopters, amphibious track vehicles, air cushion landing craft, and assault craft.

Ronald Reagan Team Scores Outstanding During TSTA/FEP

USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76) pulled into its homeport at Naval Air Station North Island Dec. 18 after a 21-day underway period and a score of outstanding on the Tailored Ship's Training Availability and Final Evaluation Problem (TSTA/FEP).

This was the first opportunity for Ronald Reagan to operate with Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 14 since the ship returned from a three-month surge deployment in April. Prior to getting underway for the compressed TSTA/FEP schedule, the ship completed a six-month planned incremental availability period ahead of schedule.

TSTA and FEP were conducted by Afloat Training Group (ATG) Pacific, and were designed to test a ship's ability to conduct multiple simultaneous combat missions and survive complex casualty situations under stressful conditions.

"I am extremely proud of the teamwork displayed by the Ronald Reagan crew to earn the grade of outstanding during TSTA/FEP," said Capt. Terry B. Kraft, Ronald Reagan's commanding officer. "The attitude and teamwork displayed by this crew was amazing."

Both TSTA and FEP focused on basic command and control, weapons employment, mobility (navigation, seamanship, damage control, engineering and flight operations) and warfare specialty.

The requirement to significantly challenge Ronald Reagan's damage control organization drove a large part of FEP scenario.

"Hands-on training, technical support and realistic drill scenarios contribute to Ronald Reagan's high state of warfighting readiness," said Senior Chief Damage Controlman (SW/AW) Brian Wilcox, who leads Ronald Reagan's damage control division.

Wilcox said he has confidence in the crew of Ronald Regan and that it was no surprise that the Sailors performed well for the team of evaluators.

During TSTA/FEP, Ronald Reagan conducted operations with other surface assets from the Ronald Reagan Carrier Strike Group including USS Chancellorsville (CG 62), USS Howard (DDG 83), USS Gridley (DDG 101) and USS Thach (FFG 43).

While underway for the training the crew of Ronald Reagan and Helicopter Anti-Submarine Squadron 4 also conducted the emergency rescue of a 14-year old suffering from a ruptured appendix aboard the cruise ship "Princess Dawn."

Military Sealift Command to Deliver Largest MRAP Shipment

In the largest single shipment to date, Military Sealift Command large, medium-speed, roll-on/roll-off ship USNS Pililaau (T-AKR 304) loaded more than 200 mine-resistant, ambush protected, or MRAP vehicles in Charleston, S.C., on Dec. 13.

These MRAPs, designed to protect occupants against armor-piercing roadside bombs, are destined for U.S. troops in Iraq and Afghanistan.

"Our ultimate mission is always to support the war fighter, and we take that very seriously," said Capt. George Galyo, commander of MSC's Sealift Logistics Command Atlantic, and operational commander for the load. "We are going to ensure that this vital equipment is underway on time in the most efficient manner possible."

MSC's 950-foot Pililaau is ideally suited to carry the large shipment of heavily armored vehicles. The ship's 380,000 square feet of cargo capacity – the size of nearly eight football fields – is accessible by ramps between each deck to allow the MRAPs to be driven aboard.

"Pililaau was designed for just such a task," said Tom D'Agostino, director of ship operations at the Sealift Logistics Command Atlantic office in Charleston. "In one load, Pililaau can carry what could take a month to deliver by air. Pililaau helps us put these critically needed vehicles in the warfighters' hands at the right place, at the right time, for the right price."

"MRAPs have proven their effectiveness against explosive devices and are saving troops' lives," said Pililaau's civilian master Capt. Richard Malloy. "We are honored to be part of this mission."

MSC operates more than 110 noncombatant, civilian-crewed ships that deliver combat equipment to troops, strategically preposition combat cargo at sea around the world, resupply Navy ships at sea, and perform a variety of other missions for the Department of Defense.

Mesa Verde Commissioned Newest Navy Ship

By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Gino Flores, Fleet Public Affairs Center Southeast

More than 300 Sailors and a platoon of Marines manned the rails of USS Mesa Verde (LPD 19), the newest San Antonio class ship, bringing her to life during the commissioning ceremony held at Port Panama City, Fla., Dec. 15.

The ship is named in honor of the Mesa Verde National Park in southwestern Colorado. In 1906, Congress established Mesa Verde as the first cultural park in the National Parks System. This is the first U.S. Navy ship to be named Mesa Verde.

Ben Nighthorse Campbell, a former U.S. Senator from Colorado, addressed ship's company, family members, and several thousand guests reflecting on the tradition of Native Americans building a strong bond with the military.

"The relationship between our native people and the U.S. Military indeed has become stronger and stronger with each passing decade", said Campbell . "We have the highest per capita rate of enlisted of any ethnic minority."

Campbell's wife, Linda Price Campbell, who is the ship's sponsor, gave the order to "man our ship and bring her to life."

Cmdr. Shawn W. Lobree of Miami, Fla., became the first commanding officer of the ship and will lead a crew of approximately 360 officers and enlisted personnel and three Marines.

"With this ship the United States will take the fight to the enemy forward from the sea with capabilities never seen before," said Lobree. "The crew before you today-they are aggressive, dedicated, salty, engaged, educated, physically and mentally fit, and most of all, ready to go to sea."

The ship is scheduled to get underway Dec. 17, and will ultimately join the fleet in its home port of Norfolk, Va.

Mesa Verde is the third amphibious transport dock ship in the San Antonio class. As a critical element in future expeditionary strike groups, the ship will support the Marine Corps mobility triad, which consists of the landing craft air cushion vehicle, the Expeditionary Fighting Vehicle and the Osprey tilt-rotor aircraft (MV-22).

The ship will support amphibious, special operations, and expeditionary warfare missions in keeping with the new maritime strategy that postures the sea services to apply maritime power to protect U.S. vital interests in an increasingly interconnected and uncertain world.

Built by Northrop Grumman Ships Systems, Ingalls Operations in Pascagoula, Miss., Mesa Verde is 684-feet long, has an overall beam of 105 feet, a navigational draft of 23 feet, displaces approximately 24,900 tons and is capable of embarking a landing force of up to 800 Marines. Four turbo-charged diesel engines power the ship to sustained speeds of 22 knots.

Rooks Return to Whidbey Island for the Holidays

By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Tucker M. Yates, Fleet Public Affairs Center, Det. Northwest

The Electronic Attack Squadron (VAQ) 137 "Rooks" arrived at Naval Air Station Whidbey Island (NASWI) Dec. 15-16 after a deployment on board USS Enterprise (CVN 65).

The Rooks were deployed for five months, conducting missions in support of Operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom in Iraq and Afghanistan. This is the second deployment of a nearly back-to-back schedule with the squadron leaving July 7, after returning from a seven-month deployment Nov. 17, 2006.

"It was nice being out there to support our riflemen on the ground," said Cmdr. Gary Patenaude, VAQ-137 executive officer. "Some of them are EA-6B Prowler folks on individual augmentee assignments, so it's nice to go out there and help not only the Army and Marine Corps, but our friends on the ground as well."

VAQ-137 logged more than 750 flight hours on 130 combat sorties throughout the course of the deployment with the support of approximately 200 Sailors.

The Rooks sent an advance detachment back to NASWI in October to prepare for the squadron's arrival. The four EA-6B Improved Capability III Prowlers returned Dec. 15, and the main body of the squadron arrived Dec. 16.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

US Air Force Thunderbirds 2008 Schedule - Update

Last Update: 1-10-2008

The Air Force Air Demonstration Squadron, the Thunderbirds, has announced its 2008 airshow schedule.

The team is scheduled to perform more than 67 shows in 25 states and Canada, as it commemorates the 55th Anniversary of the "Ambassadors in Blue."

Lt. Col. Greg Thomas takes the reigns as the Thunderbirds commander and leader for the 2008 show season.

"The entire team is excited to announce our schedule for 2008," Colonel Thomas said. "It is truly an honor for me to lead the team in commemorating the 55th anniversary of the Thunderbirds."

The Thunderbirds will help commemorate another milestone in North America when the team travels to Québec City to perform June 14 and15, honoring the city's 400th anniversary.

The Thunderbirds, originally known as the 3600th Air Demonstration Unit, out of Luke Air Force Base, Ariz., were activated May 25, 1953.

"Originally, the Thunderbirds were created in the infancy of the jet age," Colonel Thomas said. "At that time the pilots and crews' mission were to give confidence to the Air Force pilots of the day, showing that they too could handle the speed and power of jet aircraft.

"Over the last 55 years, the mission has changed slightly to include recruiting young men and women, retaining the quality Airmen already in service today and representing the 513,000 active-duty, Guard and Reserve members serving at home and abroad," Colonel Thomas said. "The mission might have changed throughout the years, but the pride, professionalism and almost unbelievable attention to detail of our Airmen representing the Air Force's finest has remained unparalleled."

The Air Force Air Demonstration Squadron is an Air Combat Command unit composed of eight pilots (including six demonstration pilots), four support officers, four civilians and about 110 enlisted people performing in more than 29 Air Force specialties.

The 2008 team includes the Air Force's first female lead-solo demonstration pilot, Maj. Samantha Weeks, Thunderbird No. 5, in her second year.

The remaining pilots for the 2008 season include: Maj. Chris Austin, Thunderbird No. 2, left wing; Maj. Kirby Ennser, Thunderbird No. 3, right wing; Maj. Scott Poteet, Thunderbird No. 4, slot; and Maj. Tyrone Douglas, Thunderbird No. 6, opposing solo.

Rounding out the list of officers are: Lt. Col. Rob Skelton, Thunderbird No. 7, operations officer; Maj. Anthony Mulhare, Thunderbird No. 8, advance pilot/narrator; Maj. (Dr.) Charla Quayle, Thunderbird No. 9, flight surgeon; Capt. Amy Glisson, Thunderbird No. 10, executive officer; Capt. Charles Ploetz, Thunderbird No. 11, maintenance officer; and Capt. Elizabeth Kreft, Thunderbird No. 12, public affairs officer.

A Thunderbirds' aerial demonstration is a mix of formation flying and solo routines. The pilots perform approximately 40 maneuvers in a demonstration. The entire show, including ground and air, runs about one hour. The airshow season lasts from March to November, with the winter months used to train new members.

Don't forget to checkout our ninth annual Air Show Guide that will appear in the March 2008 issue of Monitoring Times magazine. It will be loaded with the latest frequencies (for US and foreign teams), combined schedules, and radio equipment recommendations to make your air show experience an enjoyable and pleasurable one.

The web version of our March guide won't be posted to the MT website until mid to late April. This is done as a courtesy to our subscribers and readers who pay the freight. So get your copy of the March issue before it sells out when it is released in the last week of February. Better yet, get a subscription and don't miss a single exciting issue of Monitoring Times magazine.

US Air Force Thunderbirds 2008 Performance Schedule
This schedule is subject to change without notice.

17 Daytona Beach, Florida - Opening ceremonies for the 50th running of the Daytona 500 NASCAR race.

15 San Angelo, Texas
29 Tyndall AFB, Florida - Gulf Coast Salute 2008, Tyndall Air Force Base Air Show

5-6 Punta Gorda, Florida - Florida International Airshow
12-13 Lakeland, Florida - EAA Sun 'n Fun 2008
19-20 Wilmington, North Carolina - Coastal Carolina Airshow
26 Charleston AFB, South Carolina - Charleston Air Expo 2008

3-4 March ARB, California - AirFest 2008
10-11 Langley AFB, Virginia
17-18 Ft. Smith, Arkansas - Fort Smith Regional Airshow 2008
24 Tinker AFB, Oklahoma - Star Spangled Salute
28 U.S. Air Force Academy, Colorado. (Invitation Only)
31 McGuire AFB, New Jersey - McGuire/Fort Dix/Lakehurst Joint Base Open House 2008

1 McGuire AFB, New Jersey - McGuire/Fort Dix/Lakehurst Joint Base Open House 2008
7-8 Rockford, Illinois - 3rd Annual Rockford Air Show
14-15 Quebec City, Quebec Canada - Quebec International Air Show
21 Klamath Falls, Oregon - Klamath Falls Air Show 2008
24 Eielson AFB, Alaska
27-28 Elmendorf AFB, Alaska - Arctic Thunder 2008

4-6 Battle Creek, Michigan - Battle Creek's Field of Flight Air Show & Balloon Festival
12-13 Milwaukee, Wisconsin - Milwaukee Air Expo
19-20 McChord AFB, Washington - McChord Air Expo 2008
23 Cheyenne, Wyoming
26-27 Rochester, New York - Rochester International Air Show 2008

8-10 Abbotsford, British Columbia Canada - Abbotsford International Airshow
16-17 Offutt AFB, Nebraska - 2008 Offutt AFB Open House and Air Show
20 Atlantic City, New Jersey - 2008 Atlantic City "Thunder Over the Boardwalk" Airshow
23-24 Kansas City, Missouri - KC Aviation Expo and Airshow
30-31 Travis AFB, California - Travis Air Expo

6-7 Westover ARB, Massachusetts - Great New England Air Show
12-13 Reno, Nevada - US National Championship Air Races
14 Mountain Home, Idaho - 2008 Mountain Home Air Force Base Air Show
20-21 Scott AFB, Illinois - Scott Air Force Base Open House
27-28 Salinas, California

4 Vance AFB, Oklahoma
11-12 Ft. Worth (Alliance), Texas - Fort Worth Alliance Air Show
18-19 Dobbins ARB, Georgia
25-26 Houston, Texas - Wings Over Houston Airshow

1-2 Lafayette, Louisiana
8-9 Nellis AFB, Nevada - Aviation Nation 2008