Friday, February 29, 2008

Airshow/Flyby Schedule - March 2008 Filed 2/29/2008

Well this month starts the airshow flying season in earnest. March kicks off the major military performers season and their appearances are marked below in color (blue=Blue Angels; red=Thunderbirds, Golden Knights=Brown).

As always if you travel to a show and monitor any comms, I would sincerely appreciate a field report from you to update our files. This is the only way we are able to keep our annual airshow guide up-to-date. Even if the freqs are in our guide we still need reports that confirm what we have listed. Your reports keeps those freqs on the list and not removed for inactivity.

Radio hobbyists who want to monitor these events should download the latest copy of the Monitoring Times Airshow Guide from the magazine website. The 2007 guide is available at

The new 2008 airshow guide is now available in the March issue of Monitoring Times magazine, on the newstands right now. The free web version of this March guide won't be posted to the MT website until late April or early May. 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. Better yet, get a subscription and don't miss a single exciting issue of Monitoring Times magazine.

March 2008
Date Location - Event [Performers: color indicates a major performer appearance]

1 Las Vegas Motor Speedway, Las Vegas, NV - Sam's Town 300 -- NavAir Fly Over

1-2 Tamiami Airport, Miami, FL - Wings Over Miami Old & New -- Air Show

7 Atlanta Motor Speedway, Hampton, GA - American Commercial Lines 200 -- NavAir Fly Over
8 Auburn-Opelika, Robert G. Pitts Airport, Auburn, AL - 5th Annual Heroes Take Fly-In -- NavAir Static Display
8 Naval Air Facility El Centro, CA - NAF El Centro 2008 Air Show -- Air Show [USN Blue Angels]
8 Atlanta Motor Speedway, Hampton, GA - Nicorette 300 -- NavAir Fly Over

9 Lake Worth, FL - South Florida VA National Cemetery Dedication Ceremony -- NavAir Fly Over
9 Atlanta Motor Speedway, Hampton, GA - Kobelt Tools 500 -- NavAir Fly Over

13-16 South Padre Island, TX - Demo [US Army Golden Knights]

14-16 Space Coast Regional Airport, Titusville, FL - Tico Warbird Air Show 2008 -- Air Show NavAir [USAF F-15E SE/F-16 East/HF F-86]

15 Douglas, AZ -- Airshow [USAF A-10 West/HF P-51]
15 Kings Fair Grounds, Hanford, CA - Kings Speedway Opening Night -- NavAir Fly Over
15 Sebring International Raceway, Sebring, FL - 56th Annual Mobil I Twelve Hours of Sebring -- NavAir Fly Over
15 Seminole County Rec Complex, Donalsonville, GA - Seminole County Recreation Complex Dedication -- NavAir Fly Over
15 Youth Baseball Park, Atlanta, GA - Murphy Candler Little League 50th Anniv Opening Day -- NavAir Fly Over
15 Centennial Bridge, Davenport, IA - The 23rd Annual Quad Cities St. Patrick Day Parade -- NavAir Fly Over
15 San Angelo Regional Airport, San Angelo, TX - Air Fiesta 2008 -- Air Show [USAF Thundersbirds/F-15 West/HF P-47]

15-16 Mather Airport, Sacramento, CA - California Capital Airshow -- Air Show [USN Blue Angels/USAF F-16 West/HF P-51/USMC AV-8B Harrier II Demo Team]
15-16 Columbus Metropolitan Airport, Columbus, GA - Thunder in the Valley Air Show -- Air Show

16 Virginia Beach Ocean Front, Virginia Beach, VA - Shamrock Marathon 1/2 Marathon -- NavAir Fly Over

17-18 Travis Field, Savannah, GA - Aviation Awareness Days 2008 -- NavAir Static Display

18 Annunciation Catholic School, Middleburg, FL - Military Appreciation -- NavAir Static Display

29 Riverside Municipal Airport, Riverside, CA - Riverside Airport's "Airshow 2008" Riverside, California -- Air Show [USAF A-10 West HF Only with P-51]
29 Tyndall Air Force Base, Panama City, FL - Gulf Coast Salute 2008, Tyndall Air Force Base Air Show -- Air Show [USAF Thunderbirds/F-22 East/F-15 West/HF F4 & P-51/US Army Golden Knights]

29-30 Naval Air Station Meridian, Meridian, MS - Wings Over Meridian 2008 -- Air Show [USN Blue Angels/USAF F-16 East/F-22 East (30)/HF F-86 & F-4 (30)]

30 Pizza Hut Park, Frisco, TX - FC Dallas Opening Day/Navy Appreciation Day -- NavAir Fly Over
30 Nationals Park, Washington, D.C. - Washinton Nationals Opening Day 2008 -- NavAir Fly Over
30 Las Cruces, NM - Bataan Death March Memorial -- Flyover [USAF 2 x F-117/US Army Silver Wings]

31 Victoria Regional Airport, Victoria, TX - Wings of Freedom -- NavAir Static Display
31-April 6 Santago, Chile - Int'l Air & Trade Show [USAF F-15E SE]

NASSAU ESG Enters 6th Fleet Area of Operations

The amphibious assault ship USS Nassau (LHA 4) leads a formation of ships during an Atlantic Ocean crossing of the Nassau Expeditionary Strike Group. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Andrew King)

USS NASSAU, At Sea (NNS) -- Six ships from the Nassau Expeditionary Strike Group (NAS ESG) entered the 6th Fleet area of responsibility (AOR) Feb. 25 as the strike group opens the first leg of its scheduled deployment.

Amphibious assault ship USS Nassau (LHA 4); amphibious transport dock USS Nashville (LPD 13); amphibious dock landing ship USS Ashland (LSD 48); guided-missile destroyers USS Ross (DDG 71) and USS Bulkeley (DDG 84); and guided-missile cruiser USS Philippine Sea (CG 58) entered the AOR. The seventh vessel of the strike group, USS Albany (SSN 753), is expected to deploy from its homeport in Norfolk at a later date.

While in the area, the NAS ESG will assist Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Europe (CNE) conduct the full range of maritime operations and theater security cooperation in concert with coalition, joint, interagency and other partners in order to advance security and stability in Europe and Africa. In doing so, the NAS ESG effectively becomes Commander, Task Force 62.

The NAS ESG will also support the 2008 CNE operational objectives to improve maritime safety and security in Europe and Africa; be prepared for any contingency; provide exceptional stewardship to the regional workforce and their families; advance the art and science of maritime operations; advance awareness of the harmony of partner and U.S. interests and activities; and support U.S. European Command, U.S. Africa Command and other Navy component commanders.

The strike group will further support the other tenets of the Navy's maritime strategy, which includes forward presence, deterrence, sea control, power projection, and humanitarian assistance and disaster response.

"Our Sailors and Marines are excited and ready to conduct a full range of maritime operations with our coalition and joint partners," said Capt. Robert G. Lineberry, commander, NAS ESG. "We look forward to supporting Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Europe, enhancing maritime security, and furthering our partnerships in Europe and Africa through participation in exercises such as Phoenix Express 2008."

Following its mission in 6th Fleet, the strike group will move on to the 5th Fleet AOR to support Maritime Security Operations (MSO) and Theater Security Cooperation efforts.

MSO helps 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.

Navy to Christen Amphibious Transport Dock Ship New York

The amphibious transport dock ship New York (LPD 21) is under construction at Northrop Grumman Ship Systems. It is the fifth ship to be built in the San Antonio-class of amphibious ships. The bow stem is made of steel from the World Trade Centers and weighs 7.5 metric tons. New York is scheduled to be commissioned in the fall of 2008. (U.S. photo by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Santos Huante)

WASHINGTON (NNS) -- The Navy will christen the newest San Antonio-class amphibious transport dock ship New York (LPD 21) at 10 a.m. CST on March 1, 2008, during a ceremony at Northrop Grumman Shipbuilding facilities in New Orleans.

The ship is named New York in honor of the state, the city and the victims of Sept. 11, 2001. A unique characteristic of the ship is the use of 7.5 tons of steel salvaged from the World Trade Center wreckage that was incorporated into the construction process. The steel was melted and formed to make the bow stem of the ship. Use of this steel symbolizes the spirit and resiliency of the people of New York. The official motto of New York is: "Never Forget."

Four previous ships have been named New York. The first, a gondola that served in 1776; the second, a frigate that served 1800-1814; the third, an armored cruiser that served 1893-1938; and the fourth, a battleship that served 1914-1946.

Deputy Secretary of Defense Gordon England will deliver the ceremony's principal address. His wife, Mrs. Dotty England is serving as the ship's sponsor. The ceremony will be highlighted in the time-honored Navy tradition when she will break a bottle of champagne across the ship's bow to formally christen the ship.

Designated LPD 21, New York is the fifth amphibious transport dock ship in the San Antonio class. As an element of future expeditionary strike groups, the ship will support the Marine Corps "mobility triad," which consists of the landing craft air cushion vehicle (LCAC), the Expeditionary Fighting Vehicle (EFV) and the Osprey tilt-rotor aircraft (MV-22). New York will support amphibious, special operations and expeditionary warfare missions.

Cmdr. F. Curtis Jones, of Binghamton, N.Y., is the ship's first commanding officer and will lead a crew of 360 officers and enlisted Navy personnel and three Marines. The ship is capable of embarking a landing force of up to 800 Marines.

Built by Northrop Grumman Shipbuilding, New York is 684 feet in length, has an overall beam of 105 feet, a navigational draft of 23 feet and displaces approximately 24,900 tons. Four turbo-charged diesels power the ship to sustained speeds of 24 knots. Upon commissioning in 2009, New York will be homeported in Norfolk, Va., as a part of the U.S. Atlantic Fleet.

Reuben James Returns From Deployment

By Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class David N. Dexter, Commander, Navy Region Hawaii Public Affairs

PEARL HARBOR (NNS) -- The Pearl Harbor-based Oliver Hazard Perry-class guided-missile frigate USS Reuben James (FFG 57) returned to its homeport of Naval Station Pearl Harbor from a six-month deployment, Feb. 22, as hundreds of friends and family members waited on the pier with open arms.

Sailors reunited with loved ones were ecstatic when they spotted their friends and family waving for them from the pier.

"I'm happy I get to see my family again," said Storekeeper 3rd Class (SW) Romulo Villanueva.

While underway, Reuben James performed various missions in support of the war on terrorism and conducted community relation projects in Guadalcanal, Tonga and Samoa.

"We went to several countries and conducted counter-terrorism missions," said Cmdr. Joseph Naman, the ship's commanding officer.

During port visits to Guadalcanal, Samoa and Tonga, Reuben James Sailors spent time building relationships with the local communities by volunteering to help with construction of hospitals and houses, clearing land and painting women's shelters.

"Every port we pulled into we would do community relations projects," said Naman. "Normally we would have about 20 volunteers from the command for each project."

Reuben James also took part in the 65th anniversary of the Battle of Guadalcanal. As a tribute to service members and local Solomon Islanders who lost their lives during the Guadalcanal campaign, the crew of Reuben James conducted several traditional ship-handling maneuvers across Iron Bottom Sound.

"It was good for us because it was a chance for us to connect with some history," Naman added.

Navy Driver Flies with the Blue Angels

By Lt. j.g. Andrea Ross, Navy Motorsports Public Affairs

Aviation Structural Mechanic (Equipment) 2nd Class Austin Armstrong, No. 7 crew chief prepares Lt. Frank Weisser and Navy NASCAR driver Brad Keselowski for takeoff. Keselowski had the opportunity to ride along with the Blue Angels as a part of his Navy "Sailorization" U.S. Navy photo by Lt. j.g. Andrea Ross)

EL CENTRO, Calif. (NNS) -- NASCAR Nationwide Series driver Brad Keselowski had the opportunity to see how a F/A-18 Hornet handles when he flew with the Blue Angels, Feb. 26.

Keselowski, driver of the No. 88 Navy "Accelerate Your Life" Monte Carlo SS, rode along with Blue Angels No. 7 pilot Lt. Frank Weisser for over an hour of maneuvers.

The ride along was a part of a season-long
"Sailorization" process for Keselowski, who wants to learn more about the jobs performed by Sailors in the fleet.

The flight with Weisser gave him insight into some of the things naval aviators go through in their daily jobs. It also gave him a firsthand look at just how thrilling Navy aviation can be.

"Man, it was awesome. For a pilot to be able to make the moves with the aircraft like Lt. Weisser did was just incredible," Keselowski said after the hour-long flight.

Weisser told Keselowski during the flight he wanted him to experience some of the maneuvers performed by pilots in the fleet because of his Navy sponsorship.

"This is something I want to show you since you're representing all the fine Sailors overseas," Weisser said before performing the low-altitude attack maneuver, which simulates the way a pilot can stay below radar in a bomb-dropping situation.

Prior to strapping into the second seat of the F/A-18, Keselowski was briefed on the flight by No. 7 crew chief, Aviation Structural Mechanic (Equipment) 2nd Class Austin Armstrong. To Keselowski, the procedure was nearly identical to what he goes through during race weekends.

"It was also cool to see how similar the whole experience was to what we go through on race day with my Navy team. We started off with a briefing that was a lot like our driver/crew chief meeting," Keselowski said. "Then I was strapped in and we took off on the flight. After, we reviewed the flight just like I would debrief with Pops [crew chief Tony Eury Sr.] after a race."

Both the Navy NASCAR and Blue Angels programs are high-performance, high-visibility Navy recruiting tools.

VAW-125 Hawkeye Runs Off Runway

NORFOLK (NNS) -- An E-2C "Hawkeye" assigned to the "Tigertails" of Carrier Airborne Early Warning Squadron (VAW) 125 based at Naval Station Norfolk ran off the runway Feb. 27 at approximately 6 p.m. while landing at Chambers Field, at Naval Station Norfolk.

The aircraft was making a single-engine emergency landing when it landed short of the runway, collapsing the nose gear.

There were no injuries to aircrew or any personnel on the ground.

Damage is currently being assessed and an investigation is pending.

McGuire Airmen support downed satellite cleanup task force

by Airman 1st Class Rebekah Phy, 305th Air Mobility Wing Public Affairs

MCGUIRE AIR FORCE BASE, N.J. (AFPN) -- McGuire Air Force Base members recently provided support for Joint Task Force Operation Burnt Frost to recover debris from a nonfunctional satellite shot down Feb. 20.

The Navy shot down the bus-sized satellite to dissipate approximately 1,000 pounds of hydrazine, a hazardous fuel which could pose a danger to people before it entered into Earth's atmosphere.

Members of the 305th Services Squadron provided last-minute accommodations to JTF members while Airmen of the 305th Aerial Port Squadron loaded 65 tons of cargo. The 305th Communications Squadron members also provided an array of communications support to the team.

The JTF was formed to respond for recovery and consequence management operations if the satellite, or debris, fell to Earth. The JTF is comprised of more than 130 members from 15 agencies including members from all five services, a hydrazine response team, Environmental Protection Agency members, firefighters and hazardous materials experts.

"As an aerial porter, I'm involved in a lot of great missions, but this made history," said Tech. Sgt. Jason Berberick from the 305th APS.

"The JTF stood up in six days with members from around the country forming a response capability just days after the concept for the operation was conceived," said Army Brig. Gen. Jeff Horne, the JTF commander. "I've never seen a unit respond as well as this air base has to meet the needs of the joint force commander."

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Mobile communications system undergoes final tests

by Staff Sgt. John Gordinier, 20th Fighter Wing Public Affairs

A mobile Air Support Operations Center Gateway goes through some of its final tests during an operational readiness exercise Feb. 13 at Shaw Air Force Base, S.C. The Gateway, a vehicle mounted communications system, improves situational awareness for pilots, aircrew and joint terminal attack controllers. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Nathan Bevier)

SHAW AIR FORCE BASE, S.C. (AFPN) -- The 682nd Air Support Operations Squadron performed one of the final tests on their new mobile, state-of-the-art Air Support Operations Center Gateway during the base's operational readiness exercise Feb 12 to 14.

The Gateway, a vehicle mounted communications system, improves situational awareness for pilots, aircrew and joint terminal attack controllers.

With the Gateway, all the Air Support Operations Center and JTACs have to do is click a button and the pilot receives all needed information instantly, said Staff Sgt. Ryan Fausey, the 682nd ASOS fighter duty technician (FDT). Performing this task digitally reduces the time from aircrew check-in to bombs on target dramatically.

During a recent Central Air Forces Atlantic Strike Exercise, the time was reduced by 47 percent.

"Anytime we can process and take out targets faster and more efficiently, it can potentially save the lives of U.S. troops and friendly forces." said Sergeant Fausey.

The advanced mobile Gateway is the one of the first operational in the Air Force. The equipment is in its final stages for deployment after going through a testing validation period for the last year, said Tech. Sgt. Christopher Jones, the 682nd ASOS communication systems NCO in charge. The exercise was a perfect way for the 682nd ASOS to test the efficiency of the Gateway.

"The Gateway performed above expectations," Sergeant Jones said. "There were a few snags, but it developed great tactics, techniques and procedures as well as lessons learned for its deployment into the theater."

The Gateway is controlled primarily by fighter duty technicians, or FTDs, and support personnel located on the ground in the ASOC.

The ASOC is the primary command and control agency for integrating joint airpower with Army operations. FDTs coordinate air support for the JTACs and provide airspace de-confliction for tasked aircraft. Once JTACs receive a handoff of aircraft from the ASOC, it's their job to direct the fighters to the correct targets within close proximity to ground forces using radios and communications equipment.

Before the Gateway, the JTACs on the ground had to verbally tell the pilot everything; what he wants you to do, where to go, how to do it and when to do it. Depending on the expertise of the JTAC and pilot, the process could take up to 15 minutes, Sergeant Fausey said.

With the Gateway, all the information is received instantly, he said. The pilot now has the information before he even prosecutes the target instead of being on top of the target and then getting information for it.

The new process also burns less fuel. More fuel allows the pilot to make more passes over the target area, which improves mission efficiency.

If tests and training continue to be effective, the Gateway improves the ASOC and air-support mission for future operations in the theater, Sergeant Fausey said.

Continuous training is available to the ASOC, JTACs and communications folks throughout the year, Sergeant Jones said. JTACs from all over the Air Force receive training and education on the mobile Gateway at Shaw.

"This new equipment improves airpower and close-air support," said Lt. Col. Kenneth Craib, the 682nd ASOS commander. "It's great to see the squadron's 21 Air Force specialty codes comprised of operators, maintainers and communications technicians working together as a team to make this new equipment possible for the future of the Air Force."

"The Gateway is a great asset for both the 682nd ASOS and the 20th Fighter Wing," Sergeant Jones said. "It enhances overall situational awareness to the folks on the ground and in the air, as well as provides a great tool for airspace de-confliction for the ASOC."

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

B2 Bomber Crashes

A B-2 stealth bomber crashed at Andersen Air Force Base, Guam, February 23, 2008. Details of the crash are presented on this Pentagon Channel report.

If you want to view the report via a popup media player click on this link B2 Bomber Crashes

Officials Declare Satellite Mission Successful

WASHINGTON, Feb. 25, 2008 – Based on debris analysis, officials are confident the Feb. 21 missile intercept and destruction of a nonfunctioning National Reconnaissance Office satellite was successful in destroying the fuel tank and reducing risk to people on Earth, the Defense Department announced today.
The satellite’s fuel tank contained hydrazine, a hazardous chemical that could have posed a risk to humans if the satellite or its fuel tank had reentered the atmosphere intact.

"By all accounts, this was a successful mission. From the debris analysis, we have a high degree of confidence the satellite's fuel tank was destroyed and the hydrazine has been dissipated," Marine Gen. James E. Cartwright, vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said in a DoD news release.

A single modified tactical Standard Missile-3 was fired from the USS Lake Erie to engage the satellite. Much of the debris from the satellite already has reentered the Earth’s atmosphere or will reenter in the coming days and weeks, officials said. The Joint Functional Component Command for Space at the Joint Space Operations Center, at Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif., is tracking less than 3,000 pieces of debris, all smaller than a football, which have not yet reentered the atmosphere. To date, there have been no reports of debris landing on Earth, and it is unlikely any will remain intact to hit the ground, officials said.

Cartwright praised the collaborative effort from the U.S. government, armed forces, industry and academia to destroy the satellite and reduce risk to human life.

"The teamwork and interagency accomplishment associated with this operation was tremendous,” he said. “Close workings with the National Security Council, State Department, Defense Department, NASA, Missile Defense Agency, National Reconnaissance Office, and Department of Homeland Security was absolutely key to the effort. The U.S. Navy, particularly the Pacific Fleet, was fundamental to the operation and did a superb job. The expertise of people from the U.S. Strategic Command, Air Force Space Command and Army Strategic Command was invaluable."

U.S. Strategic Command space surveillance sensors continue to track and characterize the debris to ensure timely notifications are made, if necessary, with regard to debris-related risk on the ground or to objects in orbit, officials said.

Milcom Blog Online Poll #2

We have just concluded our second online poll conducted last week here on the Milcom Monitoring Post and here are the results of that electronic poll.

Question: Why do you think the US is shooting down USA 193?

Ranked Responses
1 - Safeguard classified secrets aboard satellite 362 (56%)
2 - Conduct a show of force for Russia and China 223 (34%)
3 - Because of the Hydrazine fuel danger 111 (17%)
4 - Danger posed to populated areas 96 (14%)
5 - I absolutely do not have a clue 31 (4%)

We had 644 voters. Thanks to all who participated.

Satellite Debris Analysis Indicates Hydrazine Tank Hit

The Department of Defense announced Feb. 25 that based on debris analysis, officials are confident the missile intercept and destruction of a non-functioning National Reconnaissance Office satellite, achieved the objective of destroying the hydrazine tank and reducing, if not eliminating, the risk from the hazardous chemical.

"By all accounts this was a successful mission. From the debris analysis, we have a high degree of confidence the satellite's fuel tank was destroyed and the hydrazine has been dissipated," said Gen. James E. Cartwright, vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

"The successful satellite engagement was truly a collaborative effort from across the U.S. government, the armed forces, industry and academia working together to reduce the risk to human life," said Cartwright.

"The teamwork and interagency accomplishment associated with this operation was tremendous," said Cartwright. "Close workings with the National Security Council, State Department, Defense Department, NASA, Missile Defense Agency, National Reconnaissance Office, and Department of Homeland Security was absolutely key to the effort. The U.S. Navy, particularly the Pacific Fleet, was fundamental to the operation and did a superb job. The expertise of people from the U.S. Strategic Command, Air Force Space Command and Army Strategic Command was invaluable."

A single modified tactical Standard Missile-3, fired from the USS Lake Erie (CG 70) was used to engage the satellite. The remaining two modified missiles will be configured back to their original status as tactical missiles and the operational computer software programs aboard the Aegis ships will be reinstalled.

The Joint Functional Component Command for Space Joint Space Operations Center at Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif., is tracking less than 3,000 pieces of debris, all smaller than a football. The vast majority of debris has already reentered or will shortly reenter the Earth's atmosphere in the coming days and weeks. To date, there have been no reports of debris landing on Earth and it is unlikely any will remain intact to impact the ground.

U.S. Strategic Command space surveillance sensors continue to track and characterize the debris to ensure timely notifications are made, if necessary, with regards to ground or on-orbit debris-related risk.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Lake Erie Crew Describes Satellite Shot

By Jim Garamone, American Forces Press Service

U.S. Navy Capt. Randall M. Hendrickson, commanding officer of the USS Lake Erie, describes the successful launch of a Standard Missile-3 at a non-functioning National Reconnaissance Office satellite as it traveled in space at more than 17,000 mph over the Pacific Ocean, (Defense Dept. photo by U.S. Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Chad J. McNeeley)

PEARL HARBOR, Hawaii, Feb. 24, 2008 – The crewmembers of the USS Lake Erie were calm as they fired the latest shot heard round the world. The Aegis-class cruiser fired the missile that destroyed a dead spy satellite that posed a threat to humans Feb 21.

Navy Capt. Randall M. Hendrickson, the Lake Erie’s commanding officer, spoke to reporters today aboard the ship, which has just returned from the mission. The visiting reporters are traveling with Navy Adm. Mike Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, who visited the ship.

The captain said the crew worked intensively for a month and a half before the shootdown. “We kept working up with a team of government experts and technicians, as well as industry partners,” Hendrickson said.

The group worked to gather information and modify the Standard Missile 3 and the Aegis weapon system, he said. They started tracking the satellite at different times to get radar cross-section data, which helped build the program software, Hendrickson said.

“Obviously there was a lot of anticipation building up each time we practiced, each time we tracked,” he said.

The ship’s weapons systems officer, Navy Lt. Cmdr. Drew Bates, said the rehearsals really helped when push came to shove. “By the time we did this, we had seen it a hundred times,” he said. “We were practicing what to do in case things go wrong. Fortunately nothing went wrong. This went just the way it was designed to happen, and hats off to the industry team for giving the nation a system that was able to have the excess capability to do this.”

The satellite was unlike any target the system was designed to go after, the captain said. The satellite was in orbit rather than on a ballistic trajectory. Also, the satellite was traveling at incredible speeds.

The Lake Erie left here the day officials announced President Bush’s decision to try to shoot down the satellite. Hendrickson said the ship was in position when the shuttle Atlantis returned from its mission.

The ship received the order that Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates had OK’d the mission at mid-morning on Feb. 21. “From that point on, the ship was very calm,” Hendrickson said. “Obviously, the closer we got, there was a lot of anticipation. The firing team was very calm when we did it and, with the exception of the ‘whoosh’ when it went out of the launcher, it was just as scripted.”

He said that when the missile’s seeker opened its eyes it had the satellite “right dead center.”

When the missile hit the satellite, “there was a lot of cheering” aboard the ship, he said.

The crew knew from the kinetic warhead imagery in the nose of the missile that it was a good hit, the captain said.

“The radar scope went wild,” he said. “At that point, there was a lot of debris, a lot of pieces and, at that point, we thought we had a pretty good impact. Then that was confirmed by the aircraft that were airborne, the radars ashore and some other sensors that it was pretty much obliterated. Over the next three to four hours, a lot of it was burning up as it was coming down, which was the whole point of it.”

Civilian experts from the Navy facility in Dahlgren, Va., and contractors from Lockheed Martin and from Raytheon Co. helped the crew prepare for the shot. But Navy sailors manned the consoles for the mission.

Everyone on the USS Lake Erie contributed, the captain said. “Whatever the task is, there’s no small task on a ship,” he said.

The reaction of the crew is unbelievable, said Command Master Chief Petty Officer Mack Ellis, the highest-ranking enlisted sailor on the Lake Erie. “Even the youngest sailor who didn’t understand it at first, every time they walk somewhere and people know they are from Lake Erie, they say congratulations. It puts a smile of their face and makes their day.”

Navy Takes Delivery of Submarine North Carolina

The Navy took delivery of its newest attack submarine, Pre-commissioning unit North Carolina (SSN 777), from Northrop Grumman Newport News (NGNN) Feb. 21. North Carolina is the fourth Virginia-class submarine and the second delivered by NGNN.

According to Virginia-class program manager, Capt. Dave Johnson, the delivery of North Carolina was a 10-month improvement compared to NGNN's first Virginia-class submarine, USS Texas (SSN 775).

"The Navy's shipbuilding partners have brought the learning curve down and performance continues to improve," he said.

The Virginia-class is the Navy's first major combatant designed and delivered specifically for the post-Cold War security environment. The class provides the ability to dominate across a wide range of missions including strike; special operations; anti-submarine and anti-surface ship warfare; intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance; battle group support; and Mmne warfare in both shallow and deep-water environments.

"North Carolina's delivery marks a major milestone for the program," said Program Executive Officer for Submarines Rear Adm. William Hilarides. "It completed the last ship of the Block I contract and with Electric Boat's and Newport News' continued improvement and innovation we will reach our goal of 2 for 4 in 12 [buying two Virginia Class submarines for $4 billion as measured in Fiscal Year 2005 dollars, in fiscal year 2012]."

North Carolina will be commissioned May 3, 2008, in Wilmington, N.C. Mrs. Linda Bowman, wife of retired Adm. Frank Bowman, the former Director of Naval Nuclear Propulsion, is the ship's sponsor.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Milcom blog logs & a few callsigns

Many thanks to my old friend Jack NeSmith down Florida way for an excellent selection of mil freqs he his monitored in the last month and a few callsigns. If you have an aero or LMR frequency list to share with the Milcom MP readers, drop me a note at the address in the masthead. Of course, if you want to remain anonymous, we can do that also.

Without further ado...
126.6000 MOODY AFB A/D
143.7500 A-10 74FS MOODY AFB
225.1250 US ARMY
227.0500 UNKNOWN
228.2250 MOODY AFB GA 347th RQG "ANGEL OPS"
233.7000 MOODY AFB GA A/D
234.8000 125FW ACM "STOSS"
235.0500 HAVE QUICK
235.1000 AR-200
251.0500 JAX CENTER ???
251.2500 125FW
253.7000 125FW ACM
254.3250 ZJX Lake City TAYLOR-LO w/125.375
256.8750 ZMA AVON PARK
260.4000 UNKNOWN
264.6250 AVON PARK RNG
269.2250 UNKNOWN
269.2500 ZJX Orlando OCALA-LO w/133.325
270.2000 125FW ACM
273.5500 ZJX ST JOHNS-LO w/134.0
276.4000 FAA UNKNOWN
276.5000 AR-655
278.2500 UNKNOWN
280.5000 ACM
281.4250 PATRICK AFB A/D
282.2000 ZJX JEKYLL-LO w/124.675
282.3000 ZJX ALMA-HI w/135.975
285.1000 NAS ATLANTA GA VAW-77
285.3000 NAVY
285.5000 ZMA AVON PARK
285.6000 MOODY AFB GA A/D
285.6500 ZJX STATES-HI w/126.125
290.3500 ZJX SECTOR HUNTER D-67 w/132.425
290.4000 ZJX WAYCROSS - LO w/132.3
301.0000 ACM 125FW "RED AIR'
307.0000 ORLANDO IAD A/D "BENGAL-41"
307.2000 ZJX SEMINOLE- HI w/128.075
307.2500 ZJX ST AUGUSTINE - LO/HI w/126.35
314.4500 HAVE QUICK
317.5250 ZJX LOWELL PERRY-HI w/135.625
317.6000 ZJX CEDAR KEY-LO w/135.75
320.5000 GCI BRISTOL
322.4750 ZJX LAKE CITY LAWTY-HI w/133.875
322.5000 ZJX SECTOR ALLENDALE (SAV) D-73 w/120.85
323.0500 ZJX SECTOR BREWTON-HI w/124.475
327.1000 ZJX TORRY - LO/HI w/134.85
327.6000 AR-202S
335.5500 ZJX DARBS - LO w/128.05
343.0000 125FW
346.2500 ZJX SECTOR GREEN COVE D-75 w/127.475
346.3500 ZJX SECTOR NEPTA D-30 w/124.775
349.0000 ZMA AVON PARK
352.0000 ZJX SECTOR TALLAHASSEE D-28 w/127.8
360.7000 ZJX Lowell MAYO-HI w/125.175
360.8000 ZJX SECTOR GENEVA D-33 w/125.05
380.2500 ZJX MICANOPY-UH w/128.625

And few callsigns...
CRAB-56 C-130J 98-1356 135AS MD-ANG
CW 080 165158 C-130T VR-54
GAF 479 GERMAN AF A-310 10+26
HERC-79 C-130H 90-1795 164AS OH-ANG
KING 64 64-14864 HC-130P 39RQS
REACH 805S 97-0041 C-17 437AW
SAM 1999 C-20B 99AS
SOONER 41 78-0810 C-130H 758AS
SPACE 01 84-0128 C-21A 311AS

B-2 Bomber Crashes on Guam; Pilots Safe

A B-2 stealth bomber crashed Saturday at an air base on Guam, but both pilots ejected safely and were in good condition, the Air Force said.

It was the first crash of a B-2 bomber, said Capt. Sheila Johnston, a spokeswoman for Air Combat Command at Langley Air Force Base in Virginia.

A board of officers will investigate the accident.

Smurfs up: Keesler Hurricane Hunters ready for storm season

KEESLER AIR FORCE BASE, Miss. (AFPN) -- When Hurricane Hunter crews from Keesler Air Force Base track severe storms in 2008 with their WC-130J Hercules aircraft, they will do so with the latest equipment received Feb. 15 that will collect data and provide weather warnings.

Members of Air Force Reserve Command's 403rd Wing took delivery of the last of 10 stepped-frequency microwave radiometers, known as "smurfs," that are state-of-the-art instruments designed to continuously and accurately measure the winds at the ocean's surface directly below an aircraft.

The technologically advanced WC-130J began to be upgraded last year with the smurf, enhancing the lifesaving storm data collection by the only operational weather reconnaissance squadron in the world. Airmen of the 53rd Weather Reconnaissance Squadron use WC-130Js to track hurricanes, tropical depressions and severe weather.

"The SFMR will be the biggest advance I can think of to improve hurricane intensity forecasts," said Max Mayfield, the National Hurricane Center former director.

As a plane flies through a storm, the SFMR senses microwave radiation naturally emitted from foam created on the sea by winds at the surface. Computers then determine wind speeds based on the levels of microwave radiation detected.

In the past, crews extrapolated wind speeds at the aircraft's altitude or from a dropsonde released from the aircraft.

The smurf directly measures the surface winds and is not confined to a single point like the dropsonde. This constant measurement of surface winds gives National Hurricane Center officials a more complete picture of the storm.

The smurf can also determine rainfall rates within a storm system. This, in addition to wind speeds at flight level, provides structural detail of the storm.

The Hurricane Hunters improve the accuracy of the National Hurricane Center's forecast by 30 percent, a number likely to rise with the use of the smurf.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Nassau Strike Group Deploys

The Nassau Strike Group (NASSG), with its more than 2,800 Sailors and Marines, deployed Feb. 19-20 for a regularly scheduled deployment to the Navy's 5th and 6th Fleet areas of operation in support of Maritime Security Operations (MSO).

Commanded by Capt. Robert G. Lineberry, commander, Amphibious Squadron Six, the NASSG is made up of the amphibious assault ship USS Nassau (LHA 4); the amphibious transport dock ship USS Nashville (LPD 13); the amphibious dock landing ship USS Ashland (LSD 48); the guided-missile destroyers USS Ross (DDG 71) and USS Bulkeley (DDG 84); the attack submarine USS Albany (SSN 753); all homeported at Norfolk; and the guided-missile cruiser USS Philippine Sea (CG 58), homeported at Mayport, Fla.

Philippine Sea departed from Mayport on Feb. 19, with Ashland deploying from Naval Amphibious Base Little Creek, Va., on the same day. The remaining ships departed Naval Station Norfolk on Feb. 20.

During the past few months, the strike group has conducted several training exercises and passed multiple certifications in its pre-deployment preparation cycle.

MSO helps 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.

While in theater, the strike group will also support the other tenets of the Navy's Maritime Strategy, which include forward presence, deterrence, sea control, power projection, and humanitarian assistance/disaster response. The Maritime Strategy represents a new vision for the 21st century and establishes new capabilities to codify longstanding challenges, while maintaining our focus on enduring missions.

NASWI Makes Preparations for EA-18G Arrival

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

Naval Air Station Whidbey Island (NASWI) held a groundbreaking at Hangar 5, Feb. 15, to kick off its recapitalization in preparation for the arrival of the EA-18G Growler.

The first Growler is anticipated to arrive June 3 and, along with the Growler Support Center groundbreaking, Oct. 31, signs of progression toward the new NASWI will be moving forward over the next three-and-a-half years, according to Capt. Thomas Tack, commodore of Electronic Attack Wing Pacific.

"It's a new community in a sense that we are going from the aircraft we've known and pretty much loved for the past 36 years to a brand new airplane which is going to give us a whole host of new capabilities," said Tack. "The base is going to change over the coming decade. The electronic attack squadron community is also going to change drastically with new aircraft, new tactical systems, which is far more survivable, far more maintainable and a lot better warfighting machine."

The renovation will be a three-phase project lasting approximately three years. The construction began Jan. 22 and the third phase will be nearing completion in June 2010. The hangar is being designed to accommodate five EA-18G squadrons, an electronic attack weapons school and the wing maintenance department.

"Pretty much everything is going to get gutted out," said Brent Korte, project manager. "We're making structural upgrades to accommodate new codes, new hangar bay doors [and] new heating systems in the hangar bays. This new hangar is being designed to accommodate the EA-18G with everything designed to meet the needs of that aircraft."

According to Oak Harbor Mayor Jim Slowik, not only is the NASWI looking forward to the transition, but the entire community as well.

"The community is so excited about it because it's all they talk about" said Slowik. "I know people on my staff are working with the Navy to make preparations to see the Growler when it arrives. We're hoping to have a proper celebration for it in June. It's very exciting times."

"It's coming and now we're starting to see the preparatory steps to deliver the first jet in June and the rapid transition of this community from an all EA-6B (Prowler) fleet to an all EA-18G fleet," said Tack. "This Growler Support Center and this new Hangar 5 complex are the first real tangible steps where you can say, 'there's a change going on at Whidbey Island.' For the guys that work and live on this base, this is the beginning. It's going to be exciting. It rocks."

Elmendorf Airmen complete first F-22 deployment

by Capt. Torri White, 477th Fighter Group Public Affairs

Eight F-22 Raptors and 132 Airmen from Elmendorf Air Force Base completed the first deployment from Alaska as Reserve and active-duty Airmen combined for training Feb. 2 through 17 at Tyndall AFB, Fla.

Members of the 3rd Wing and Air Force Reserve Command's 477th Fighter Group here combined for the deployment to for Combat Archer, a Weapons System Evaluation Program training program.

The Airmen worked side-by-side to accomplish the mission during Combat Archer, an assessment conducted to prepare and evaluate an operational fighter squadron's readiness for combat operations. The program evaluates all phases of combat operations from weapons loading to aircraft and aircrew performance.

It is unique to the Air Force and is the only test or evaluation program that uses operational aircrews, maintainers, aircraft and weapons.

"WSEP gives us the opportunity to employ air-to-air weapons in as close-to-combat environment as possible," said Maj. David Piffarerio, a 302nd Fighter Squadron pilot and project officer for Combat Archer. "Fourteen out of 16 of our missiles met WSEP hit criteria and passed within the lethal radius or hit the drone. The successful deployment of WSEP means the 3rd Wing is one step closer to initial operation capability."

This deployment gave F-22 pilots the opportunity to shoot a live missile at the combat banner, a target towed by a Learjet to evaluate live air-to-air gunnery. Additionally, maintainers and weapons specialists witnessed the capability of the aircraft.

"The main benefit for me was to see the missile system work. We usually load and unload and never see the jet come back empty," said Senior Airman Austin Shippy, a 477th Maintenance Squadron weapons specialist. "We now know these systems do what they say they do."

The deployment also gave reservists and active-duty members a chance to work in a deployed environment.

"I have to look at the patches to tell who is from the 477th Fighter Group and who is from the 3rd Wing," said Capt. Megan Rogers, the 3rd Wing deployed maintenance commander. "Everyone has the same mission, and everyone works hard to make sure it gets done. In years to come, the Reserve will bring experience to our mission. They will still be around even after a lot of us have rotated out and will be able to provide continuity to our mission here."

The fighter group was activated in October 2007. It is an associate unit responsible for recruiting, training, developing and retaining citizen Airmen to support 3rd Wing and expeditionary Air Force mission requirements.

They are functionally integrated with their active-duty Air Force partners in almost all mission areas to increase efficiency and overall combat capability while retaining Reserve administrative support and career enhancement.

Combat Archer marked the first time the 477th FG and 3rd WG deployed together and tested its combat capability.

"The successful completion of Combat Archer proves that the weapons system is ready and mature," said Brig. Gen. Thomas L. Tinsley, the 3rd Wing commander. "The Airmen -- both active-duty and Reserve -- are experienced, and the 3rd Wing, if called upon, would be able to deploy."

Gates Tours Backup Ship for Satellite Shot

By Fred W. Baker III, American Forces Press Service

U.S. NAVAL STATION PEARL HARBOR, Hawaii, Feb. 21, 2008 – Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates today toured the USS Russell, one of the three ships used for yesterday’s shooting of the dying spy satellite orbiting earth.

The ship’s homeport is here, and ship officials said the crew went through the same drills as the USS Lake Erie, which fired the actual shot that hit the satellite. The Russell did not, however, load a missile or leave the port, the officials said.

Gates viewed some of the drills the crew went through to prepare for the shooting, he said, talking to the press shortly after the tour.

“(It is) Just another reminder, as with other ships I’ve visited, (of) … the incredible quality and dedication and skill of the men and women in uniform that carry out these tasks,” Gates said.

The secretary thanked the people of Hawaii for their support to local servicemembers and their families. “Without your help and support, everything would be a lot more difficult for them. So we really appreciate the local support,” Gates said.

The secretary also commended defense and Navy officials for the successful shootdown. “Finally I would just like to congratulate (Air Force) General (Kevin) Chilton and those in strategic command, as well as the Navy for what appears to be a very successful operation yesterday,” Gates said. Chilton is commander of U.S. Strategic Command.

The secretary also toured the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command, which is responsible for searching for, recovering and identifying remains of Americans unaccounted for from all conflicts from World War II through the Persian Gulf War.

The secretary left here today for Australia, after a brief visit with the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the commander of U.S. Pacific Command last evening. The secretary dined with Navy Adms. Mike Mullen and Timothy J. Keating, the Joint Chiefs chairman and PACOM commander respectively, after arriving from Washington yesterday.

Australia is the second stop in a nine-day tour that includes Indonesia, India and Turkey.

Transparency of Satellite Shootdown Offers Model

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

CAMP H.M. SMITH, Hawaii, Feb. 21, 2008 - The way the United States handled the shootdown of a dead reconnaissance satellite last night offers a model of the transparency it encourages other countries more secretive about their military operations to adopt, the commander of U.S. Pacific Command said today.
Navy Adm. Timothy J. Keating pointed to the huge difference between last night's mission, aimed at destroying a satellite hurtling toward Earth, and the secret anti-satellite weapons test the Chinese conducted in January 2007.

"We've told people what we're going to do; we've told them how we're going to do it, and it's very open," Keating said.

The rationale behind the two missions was distinctly different, as well. President Bush decided to shoot down the satellite to preclude a danger to humans from hydrazine, a toxic fuel that would have been used to steer the satellite had it worked. The Chinese test, in contrast, was designed to test an anti-satellite weapon.

To carry out its mission, the U.S. fired a modified Standard Missile 3. The Chinese, in contrast, fired a specially designed anti-satellite weapon.

Keating told reporters he hopes the Chinese will learn from the U.S. model. "We would hope that they can see how to do an operation like this, emphasizing the transparency, emphasizing clear intentions, realizing --that while we don't have press embedded on the ship -- everybody knows what's going on," he said. "The Chinese did not do that when they launched their anti-satellite test. We hope there are some lessons that become apparent to them."

U.S. defense officials have long encouraged China and other nations around the world to be more transparent about their military operations. Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates encouraged more openness during his visit to China in November.

Keating visited China in January in an effort to bolster the two countries' military relationship and promote improved communication. He told Pentagon reporters in November that solid communication between the United States and China will help reduce the potential for misunderstanding. This will leave "less room for confusion that could lead to confrontation, to crisis," he said.

"That's our goal," he said. "To get there, we reduce the chance for misunderstanding."

Thursday, February 21, 2008

DoD on USA 193 debris watch

The U.S. military is watching for falling debris or hazardous material that could fall on populated areas following the successful shootdown of a damaged spy satellite, (Video courtesy of the Pentagon and Pentagon Channel)

If you want a popup media player click here Gen Cartwright/Satellite Debris

Navy Missile Likely Hit Fuel Tank on Disabled Satellite

By Gerry J. Gilmore, American Forces Press Service

The USS Lake Erie launches a Standard Missile-3 at a non-functioning National Reconnaissance Office satellite as it traveled in space at more than 17,000 mph over the Pacific Ocean on Feb. 20, 2008. (Defense Dept. photo by U.S. Navy)

WASHINGTON, Feb. 21, 2008 - The missile fired from a U.S. Navy ship in the Pacific Ocean that hit a malfunctioning U.S. reconnaissance satellite late yesterday likely accomplished its goal of destroying the satellite's toxic fuel tank, a senior U.S. military officer said here today.

Preliminary reports indicate the SM-3 missile struck its primary target, which was a tank full of toxic hydrazine rocket fuel carried aboard the 5,000-pound satellite, Marine Gen. James E. Cartwright, vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told reporters at a Pentagon news conference.

"The intercept occurred. ... We're very confident that we hit the satellite," Cartwright said. "We also have a high degree of confidence that we got the tank."

Video shown to reporters depicts the satellite exploding at the point of contact with the missile. Cartwright said the visible fireball and the vapor cloud or plume around it suggest that the fuel tank was hit and the hydrazine had burned up.

"The high-definition imagery that we have indicates that we hit the spacecraft right in the area of the tank," Cartwright said.

However, he added, it probably would take another 24 to 48 hours of sifting through data "to get to a point where we are very comfortable with our analysis that we indeed breached the tank."

Radar sweeps of the satellite's debris field thus far show that no parts larger than a football survived the strike, Cartwright said. Post-strike surveillance shows satellite debris falling into the atmosphere above the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, he said. Small remnants are likely to burn up in the atmosphere, never making it to the Earth's surface.

The U.S. State Department has provided updates on the situation to its embassies around the world, Cartwright noted. There are no reports of debris reaching the Earth, he said, adding that consequence-management crews are on standby to respond to such a circumstance, if required.

The SM-3 missile was launched by the USS Lake Erie, positioned northwest of Hawaii, at 10:26 p.m. EST yesterday, Cartwright said. Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates, who is on an overseas trip, gave the go-ahead to fire, Cartwright said.

The missile intercepted the satellite about 153 nautical miles above the Earth, just before it began to enter the atmosphere, Cartwright said. Joint Space Operations Center technicians at Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif, confirmed the satalitte's breakup about 24 minutes later.

The National Reconnaissance Office-managed satellite malfunctioned soon after it was launched in 2006, making it unresponsive to ground control. The satellite, orbiting Earth every 90 minutes or so, was expected to fall to Earth in February or March with its tank of hydrazine intact, possibly endangering human populations.

President Bush directed the Defense Department to engage the satellite just before it entered the atmosphere. U.S. officials decided to shoot down the satellite because of the danger posed by the hazardous hydrazine, Cartwright explained, noting the goal was for the missile to hit and rupture the tank of rocket fuel, causing the hydrazine to burn up harmlessly in the atmosphere, along with debris from the stricken satellite.

"So, you can imagine at the point of intercept last night there were a few cheers from people who have spent many days working on this project," Cartwright said.

DoD Video of the USA 193 Shoot Down

Here is gun sight video from the Navy of the shoot down last night of the NRO spy satellite USA 193. (Video courtesy of DoD).

If you prefer a popup media player click on this link
Missile Intercept

Pentagon Briefing on the USA 193 Shoot Down

Gen James Cartwright, Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, provides further information related to the successful operation intercepting a non-functioning satellite.

You can click on the player above or the link below to watch video and audio of a Pentagon Briefing held this morning at 7:00 am EST by Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Marine Gen. James E. Cartwright on the US Navy shoot down of NROL-21/USA 193. USA 193 was a new generation NRO Radar imaging satellite that was launched in December 2006 and failed within a few hours of its launch from the Western Test Range.

You can get a written transcript of the presser above at

Gates Pleased by Mission's Success

By Fred W. Baker III, American Forces Press Service

Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff U.S. Marine Gen. James E. Cartwright (left), and Deputy Defense Secretary Gordon England follow the progress of a Standard Missile-3 as it races toward a non-functioning National Reconnaissance Office satellite in space over the Pacific Ocean on Feb. 20, 2008. (Defense Dept. photo by U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Adam M. Stump)

HONOLULU, Feb. 21, 2008 – Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates was pleased when he learned a U.S. Navy missile hit the crippled spy satellite that was falling out of orbit and threatening to spill its toxic rocket fuel upon re-entry.

Defense officials could not immediately confirm that the fuel tank had been hit, and said they hope to know for sure by late tonight.

At 5:35 p.m. in Hawaii (10:35 p.m. EST), Gates received a call from Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Marine Gen. James E. Cartwright and U.S. Strategic Command Commander Air Force Gen. Kevin P. Chilton delivering the news that the mission was a success, Pentagon Press Secretary Geoff Morrell said.

“The secretary was obviously very pleased to learn that, and he congratulated General Cartwright and General Chilton, as well as their teams, on a job well done,” Morrell said.

At about 1:40 p.m. EST yesterday, while en route to Hawaii from Washington, Gates held a conference call with the two generals and was told the conditions were “ripe” for an attempt. That is when the secretary gave the go-ahead for the Navy to take the shot, and he wished them luck in their attempt, Morrell said.

At about 10:26 p.m. EST, a U.S. Navy Aegis warship, the USS Lake Erie, fired a single modified tactical Standard Missile 3, hitting the satellite about 133 nautical miles over the Pacific Ocean as it traveled in space at more than 17,000 mph, according to a Defense Department statement.

The objective was to rupture the fuel tank to dissipate the roughly 1,000 pounds of hydrazine, a hazardous fuel that could pose a danger to people on Earth.

“The secretary, like all of us, is standing by to learn more how successful the intercept was,” Morrell said. “After all, the goal here was not just to hit the satellite. The goal here was to hit and destroy the fuel tank to eliminate it as potential danger to those of us here on Earth.”

Because of the relatively low altitude of the satellite at the time of the engagement, debris would have started re-entering the earth's atmosphere immediately, officials said, and nearly all of the debris will burn up on re-entry within two days.

Should any large pieces of the satellite’s debris make it to Earth, special teams are on alert and positioned within the U.S. Pacific Command, Navy. Adm. Timothy J. Keating, PACOM commander, told reporters traveling with the secretary shortly after Gates landed here.

“(The teams are there) to lend assistance should parts of the satellite survive the missile impact and hit,” he said. “We don’t think the hydrazine container is going to hit. That’s why we’re shooting at it. But if it does, we’re prepared to assist with specially trained teams that are on alert at various places throughout our area of responsibility.”

Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Navy Adm. Mike Mullen also spoke to reporters here and said the shoot-down does not threaten any country and is not a new space race with any country.

"What we've tried to do from the beginning was be as open as possible about the intention," the chairman said during a news conference at Hickam Air Force Base. "We are taking the shot at what we hope will be an altitude that will minimize the amount of space debris that will occur. We've engaged governments throughout the world to tell them what our intentions are. We have been very transparent, very open in that regard."

The admiral made a point that the Navy's Standard Missile 3 had to be modified to fly the mission at all, and that it would be used only in this kind of emergency response to similar potential dangers.

Gates stopped in Hawaii on the first leg of a nine-day trip around the world aimed at reinforcing relationships with some countries he has yet to visit as defense secretary. In addition to U.S. Pacific Command here, the secretary will participate in annual bilateral talks with Australia, and discuss security matters with his counterparts in Indonesia, India and Turkey.

(Jim Garamone of American Forces Press Service contributed to this story.)

Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. James E. Cartwright, U.S. Marine Corps, informs Secretary of Defense Robert Gates of the successful missile intercept from the Pentagon’s National Military Command Center on Feb. 20, 2008. The USS Lake Erie (CG 70) launched the missile at the satellite as it orbited in space at more than 17,000 mph over the Pacific. The objective was to rupture the satellite’s fuel tank to dissipate the approximately 1,000 pounds (453 kg) of hydrazine, a hazardous fuel which could pose a danger to people on earth, before it entered into earth's atmosphere. (DoD photo by Air Force Tech. Sgt. Adam M. Stump)

Possible USA 193 Debris Observed at Prince George BC

Via Eric Briggs and the SEESAT-L newsgroup - A message posted on the mailing list of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada says in part:

"at approx. 19:43 PDT while observing the lunar eclipse at the PGAO (53 45' 29" N 122 50' 56" W) a group of >about 30 people, PG Centre members and public, witnessed what we assume was the demise of the spy satellite USA 193.

"Many debris trails were witnessed moving from south-west to north-east at high altitude. One was especially >bright and long lasting. I can recall about 6 bright trails and 15 fainter ones.

"The debris trails seemed to come in "waves" with the first wave being brighter than the debris that followed >behind it. The trails seemed to be in a fan shape with the trails being wider apart in the north-east than they >were in the south-est."

Brian Battersby, Prince George Centre RASC

Navy Succeeds In Intercepting Non-Functioning Satellite

Fire Controlman 2nd Class Andrew Jackson, a native of Ray Town, Mo., launches a Standard Missile-3 (SM-3) from the Combat Information Center aboard the Ticonderoga-class guided missile cruiser USS Lake Erie (CG 70). (U.S. Navy Photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Michael Hight)

A network of land-, air-, sea- and spaced-based sensors confirms that the U.S. military intercepted a non-functioning National Reconnaissance Office satellite which was in its final orbits before entering the earth's atmosphere.

At approximately 10:26 p.m. EST, Feb. 20, a U.S. Navy AEGIS warship, USS Lake Erie (CG-70), fired a single modified tactical Standard Missile-3 (SM-3) hitting the satellite approximately 133 nautical miles over the Pacific Ocean as it traveled in space at more than 17,000 mph. USS Decatur (DDG-73) and USS Russell (DDG-59) were also part of the task force.

At a single modified tactical Standard Missile-3 (SM-3) launches from the U.S. Navy AEGIS cruiser USS Lake Erie (CG 70), successfully impacting a non-functioning National Reconnaissance Office satellite approximately 247 kilometers (133 nautical miles) over the Pacific Ocean, as it traveled in space at more than 17,000 mph. (U.S. Navy photo)

The objective was to rupture the fuel tank to dissipate the approximately 1,000 pounds of hydrazine, a hazardous fuel which could be harmful, before it entered into earth's atmosphere. Confirmation that the fuel tank has been fragmented should be available within 24 hours.

Due to the relatively low altitude of the satellite at the time of the engagement, debris will begin to re-enter the earth's atmosphere immediately. Nearly all of the debris will burn up on reentry within 24-48 hours and the remaining debris should re-enter within 40 days.

DoD will conduct a press briefing at 7 a.m. EST to provide further information related to the operation. The briefing can be viewed live on through the Pentagon Channel.

At a single modified tactical Standard Missile-3 (SM-3) launches from the U.S. Navy AEGIS cruiser USS Lake Erie (CG 70), successfully impacting a non-functioning National Reconnaissance Office satellite.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

F15 Crash

The Secretary of the Air Force, Office of Public Affairs has issued the following press release:

EGLIN AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. - Two Air Force F-15C Eagles were reported missing today at approximately 2 p.m. CST in the Gulf of Mexico. The two aircraft were assigned to the 33d Fighter Wing. At the time of the accident, they were on a training sortie.
Active search and rescue efforts are underway. A board of officers will investigate the accident. Additional details will be provided as soon as they become available.

Pentagon Opens Window of Time to Shoot Down Satellite

By Gerry J. Gilmore
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Feb. 20, 2008 – The Pentagon has opened the window of time in which it will shoot down a malfunctioning U.S. reconnaissance satellite, a senior U.S. military officer said here today.

Today’s return of the space shuttle Atlantis to Earth prompted the start of the optimal time period for shooting down the satellite, which extends until about the end of the month, the senior officer told Pentagon reporters.

Only “tens of seconds” will be available each day for a favorable launch of a ship-based SM-3 interceptor missile, the senior officer said. “The window is small, … but we’re looking for the best orientation of the satellite” before launching the missile, the officer explained.

The 5,000-pound satellite malfunctioned soon after it was launched in 2006, making it unresponsive to ground control. It is carrying a tank full of hydrazine, a toxic rocket fuel. The satellite, orbiting every 90 minutes or so, was expected to fall to Earth in February or March with its tank of hydrazine intact, possibly endangering human populations.

President Bush directed the Defense Department to engage the satellite just before it enters the atmosphere at about 150 miles above the Earth. The goal is for the missile to hit and rupture the tank of rocket fuel, causing the hydrazine to burn up harmlessly in the atmosphere, along with debris from the stricken satellite.

About 50 percent of debris produced by the missile strike is expected to burn up during the stricken satellite’s first two orbits after being hit, the senior military officer said, with the rest burning up shortly after.

Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates is to give the order to launch, based upon commanders’ recommendations, the senior officer said. Gates will be advised as to the optimal time to launch by the commander of U.S. Strategic Command, based at Offutt Air Force Base, in Omaha, Neb.

All space sensor and missile-tracking activity related to the missile launch is being coordinated by the Joint Space Operations Center, at Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif. Sensors, such as large radars and telescopes, are being coordinated by the Joint Integrated Missile Defense Team in Colorado Springs, Colo., under the U.S. Army’s Space and Missile Defense Command.

Three U.S. Navy ships -- the cruiser USS Lake Erie and the destroyers USS Decatur and USS Russell -- are posted in the Pacific Ocean waiting for an optimal time to launch, the senior officer said. The Erie is slated to shoot at the satellite, and it is fitted with two SM-3 missiles. The Decatur has one, and the Russell has none. The missiles were modified to carry additional sensor equipment for the mission, the senior officer said.

The launch will be conducted during daytime over the Pacific, the senior officer explained, so that all sensors involved can better track the results of the missile launch. Necessary criteria for launch include satisfactory alignment of all pre-launch sensor-supplied data, as well as favorable weather conditions, he said.

Currently, the wave height about the ships is unfavorable to launch, the officer said. However, this and other conditions are subject to change, he added.

USA 193 Shoot Down for Today Probably Cancelled

Several news agencies are reporting that the attempt to shoot down USA 193 by the US Navy has been postponed for today due to bad weather (high seas) in the operations area. The next attempt could occur tommorrow evening (see my

And a new NOTAM has been issued for a possible shoot down on Friday. Here is that NOTAM:

02/075 (A0041/08) - AIRSPACE CARF NR. 93 ON EVELYN STATIONARY RESERVATION WITHIN AN AREA BNDD BY 3145N/17012W 2824N/16642W 2352N/16317W 1909N/16129W 1241N/16129W 1239N/16532W 1842N/17057W 2031N/17230W 2703N/17206W SFC-UNL. 23 FEB 02:30 2008 UNTIL 23 FEB 05:00 2008. CREATED: 20FEB 14:21 2008

One insider says that DoD has a ten day period (which opened today) in which to get this job done. There is basically one shooting window a day they can use. More are available, but the others are not good for debris containment.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

USA 193 Shoot Down Update - 2/19/2007 at 0941 EST

Our good friend John Locker has checked in again this morning with the latest update on the shootdown of USA 193/NROL-21. According to John the third US Navy warship involved in this operation may be the USS Russell (DDG-59) based out of Pearl Harbor.

John and I agree that DoD will probably issue a new NOTAM each day until they have a successful shootdown. John says looking at future satellite predictions for USA 193 we will have a window for a shootdown for at least five days. Below is a graphic courtesy of John for the Thursday shootdown attempt.

Image above subject to copyright restrictions. Copyright ©2008 by John Locker. Used with permission of the author. Click on graphic to animate.

Window to Open for Satellite Shoot-Down, Gates to Issue Order

By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Feb. 19, 2008 – The anticipated landing tomorrow of the space shuttle Atlantis will open the window of opportunity for the U.S. military to shoot down a dying intelligence satellite headed toward Earth, Pentagon Press Secretary Geoff Morrell said today.
President Bush has authorized Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates to give the shoot-down order, and the secretary received a briefing on the plan today, Morrell said. The secretary is prepared to make that call from the road, if necessary, during his nine-day, around-the-world trip that begins tomorrow, he said.

Marine Gen. James E. Cartwright, vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told reporters last week the window of opportunity for shooting down the satellite would last seven or eight days.

“We have a pretty wide aperture with which to take this shot,” Morrell said today. “I think the commanders that are evaluating this are looking at all the conditions that could impact this to make sure that when we do take this shot, it can be as successful as possible.”

Cartwright, Air Force Gen. Kevin P. Chilton, commander of U.S. Strategic Command, and other experts across the military and U.S. government “are evaluating the situation and will advise the secretary when they have a shot to take,” Morrell said.

Pentagon officials began studying the situation in early January when it become clear that a malfunctioning U.S. spy satellite could cause death or injury if it fell in a populated area. Of particular concern is that the satellite could release hydrazine, a toxic chemical used as a maneuvering fuel.

A Pentagon plan was put together to strike the incoming satellite just above the atmosphere, rupturing the hydrazine tank in the process.

All systems appear to be “go” for the launch order. The Navy has prepared for the mission by modifying three SM-3 missiles aboard Aegis ships to strike the satellite, Cartwright said last week.

The international community has been informed of the mission and why it’s being conducted, Morrell said. “So I think everybody is up to date on what our thinking is and what our course of action is going to be, and we will keep them apprised of how it develops over the coming days,” he said.

The Federal Aviation Administration today issued a 24-hour notice warning aircraft and ships to steer clear of the projected shoot-down zone in the Pacific. New warnings will be issued every 24 hours during the anticipated shoot-down window, Morrell said.

The Pentagon will issue a written statement within an hour of the launch and will hold a news conference regarding the effort within the following hours, Morrell told reporters. “We can probably tell you at that point whether or not there has been an intercept,” but not necessarily if it destroyed the fuel tank, he said. “That may require some additional time,” he acknowledged.

Cartwright and other commanders associated with the mission “have a high confidence this engagement will indeed be successful, and I think Secretary Gates shares that confidence,” Morrell told reporters.

Morrell emphasized that the mission isn’t designed to test U.S. anti-satellite capabilities. “We did that in 1985. Been there, done that,” he said.

“This operation is designed to alleviate a threat to human beings on this planet. There is a large tank of hydrazine fuel onboard that satellite that would pose a significant threat to people within the immediate vicinity of it if it were to hit land,” Morrell said. “So not wishing to take that risk, the president has asked -- ordered -- this department to shoot down that satellite.

“And that is what we are now evaluating,” he continued, “and that is what the secretary will decide to do, based upon the advice of the commanders.”

USA 193 Shoot Down Set for Thursday or Friday UTC?

The US Department of Defense has issued a couple of NOTAMs out of the Honolulu ARTCC that may indicate when the US Navy is going to attempt a shootdown of the NRO Spy Satellite USA 193. The USS Lake Erie CG-70 and USS Decatur DDG-73 are set to perform the mission using the Navy has modified three SM-3 missiles aboard Aegis ships to strike the satellite, said Marine Gen. James E. Cartwright, vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

The Navy wants to intercept the satellite at a point just above the atmosphere so there would be a high likelihood of bringing it down in an unpopulated area. An intercept also would rupture the hydrazine tank. The vice chairman would not say exactly where the ships would fire from, only saying it will be from the northern hemisphere and the Pacific Ocean.

The first operational opportunity is detailed in this NOTAM:

02/062 (A0038/08) - AIRSPACE CARF NR. 90 ON EVELYN STATIONARY RESERVATION WITHIN AN AREA BNDD BY 3145N 17012W 2824N 16642W 2352N 16317W 1909N 16129W 1241N 16129W 1239N 16532W 1842N 17057W 2031N 17230W 2703N 17206W SFC-UNL. 21 FEB 02:30 2008 UNTIL 21 FEB 05:00 2008. CREATED: 18 FEB 12:51 2008

Based on this NOTAM the shootdown will occur on 21 Feb 2008 between 0230-0500 UTC or 20 feb 2008, Wednesday evening 2130-2400 EST.

Using the NOTAM above and the latest TLE Ted Molzcan has plotted a possible shootdown scenario and placed that into a PDF at

That diagram is also presented below. Looks like the actual first shootdown attempt of USA 193 will occur around 21 Feb 2008 at 0330 UTC (20 Feb 2008 2230 EST).

USA 193 Shootdown plot courtesy of Ted Mozcan and the SEESAT-L newsgroup.

The benefit of a shootdown during this pass, is that if anything does come down, it will do so over the barren Canadian Arctic rather than over populated area. You can see that track on a satplot displayed on Dr. Marco Langbroek satrackcam blog at

Our good friend John Locker has just passed along a second NOTAM that I have reposted below.

02/067 (A0708/08) - AIRSPACE STATIONARY RESERVATION WITHIN AN AREA BNDD BY 3145N / 17012W, 2824N / 16642W, 2352N / 16317W, 1909N / 16129W, 1241N / 16129W, 1239N / 16532W, 1842N / 17057W, 2031N / 17230W, 2703N / 17206W SFC-UNL. 22 FEB 02:30 2008 UNTIL 22 FEB 05:00 2008. CREATED: 19 FEB 12:30 2008

This is exactly 24 hours later than the first attempt. So based on this NOTAM the 2nd attempt at a USA 193 shootdown will occur on 22 Feb 2008 between 0230-0500 UTC or 21 Feb 2008, Thursday evening 2130-2400 EST if the first attempt is not successful.

For visual observers the latest TLE elset from Ted Molzcan and the SEESAT-L group follows:

USA 193 5.0 2.5 0.0 4.3 v 250 X 257 km
1 29651U 06057A 08049.03290930 .00227439 00000-0 27958-3 0 02
2 29651 58.5131 39.7259 0005095 99.1484 261.0195 16.07330305 09
Arc 2008 Feb 11.46 - 18.04, WRMS residuals = 0.1 deg

Rate of altitude decrease is about 1.3 km/d (kilometres per day).Using the above elements and a 10.7 cm solar flux of 70, Satevo v0.51 estimatesdecay from orbit on 2008 March 15. The uncertainty is at least several days.Definition of 2-line elements format:

ACC officials issue latest release from stand down for F-15s

LANGLEY AIR FORCE BASE, Va. (AFPN) -- Gen. John D.W. Corley, Air Combat Command commander, returned 149 grounded F-15s to flight Feb. 15 contingent upon the completion of customized inspections on each of the aircraft's longerons.

This "stand-down release" order brings the total number of cleared A, B, C and D-model F-15 aircraft to 429. Nine aircraft, however, will remain grounded due to cracked longerons, the critical support structures that run along the length and side of the aircraft.

The ACC release directly applies to ACC F-15 A-D aircraft. ACC also recommends the release and return to flying status of F-15 A-D aircraft assigned to the Air National Guard, Pacific Air Forces, United States Air Forces in Europe, Air Education and Training Command and Air Force Materiel Command.

The F-15s are cleared after the completion of any necessary and previously ordered inspections, follow-on engineering technical reviews on each aircraft longeron and any associated repair actions.

The recommendation to return these aircraft to flying status is based on assessments performed by the engineering staff at Warner Robins Air Logistics Center with technical assistance provided by industry partners and the Air Force Research Laboratories.

Warner Robins ALC F-15 systems program manager created the time compliance technical order inspections that each F-15 A-D aircraft have to complete before returning to flight. In addition to the TCTOs, additional inspections are required via an engineering technical assistance request process.

The purpose of the ETAR inspections is to validate unique discrepancies at specific locations on any given aircraft longeron among those aircraft recommended for release.

These are tailored inspections, which are tail-number unique, and are directed via the ETAR process. Once the ETAR inspections are complete, and TCTOs have been completed, the aircraft may return to flying status.

On Feb. 12, General Bruce Carlson, AFMC commander, approved the report of an Independent Review Team, which endorsed WR-ALC plans for releasing aircraft after an extensive analytical investigation. Subsequently, Maj. Gen. Thomas J. Owen, WR-ALC commander, recommended that F-15s with longerons not meeting specifications but, which have passed all previous published TCTOs and do not have cracks, be returned to flight. The Warner Robins ALC F-15 SPM has developed additional fleet-wide recurring inspection requirements for the F-15 A-D model longerons, which will account for individual aircraft usage severity, part thickness variations and other factors as required.

"The priority in returning these F-15s to flight is to provide combat power for the defense of our nation and, particularly, as an essential component to our nation's alert force," said General Corley. "After careful review of engineering data and upon the recommendation from both military and industry experts, I believe we can release and return our F-15s to their important air superiority mission."

The F-15s were first grounded after a Nov. 2 mishap when an F-15 C assigned to the Missouri Air National Guard broke in half due to the failure of the upper right longeron. Based on data recovered by the accident investigation board investigating that mishap, and from engineers at the WR-ALC, aircraft were found to have cracks in their longerons, which resulted in the grounding of the entire fleet until appropriate inspections and evaluations could be accomplished.

On Jan. 9, ACC cleared approximately 60 percent of its F-15 A-D model aircraft for flight and recommended a limited return to flight for Air Force units worldwide. This decision followed engineering risk assessments and data received from multiple fleet-wide inspections. At that time, it was determined that 40 percent of the F-15 A-D model fleet's longerons did not meet manufacturing specifications.