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- UFO Milsat Program
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Friday, October 31, 2008
Milcom Blog Logs - 10/30/2008 Mid Atlantic
All times are UTC and freqs are in kHz.
05821.0 FC8FEM (Communications manager, FEMA Region 8, Denver CO): 1245 USB/ALE sounding.
06911.5 COROPS (unid US Army entity): 2200 USB/ALE sounding.
06911.5 KYAASF (Army Avn Support Facility KY ArNG Frankfort KY): 2230 USB/ALE calling aircraft # 156
07361.5 INDOPS (Indiana ArNG Shelbyville IN): 1730 USB/ALE sounding.
07361.5 T1Z137 (1-137th Avn, OH ArNG, Rickenbacker ANGB, Columbus, OH): 1745 USB/ALE sounding.
08181.5 JFHQME (Joint Force Hqs, ME ArNG, Camp Keyes, Augusta ME): 1430 USB/ALE sounding.
And if you would like to become an MMP reporter, please contact me via private email at the address in the masthead.
SECNAV Names New Zumwalt-Class Destroyer USS Michael Monsoor
Secretary of the Navy, Donald C. Winter announced Oct. 29 at a Navy SEAL Warrior Fund Benefit Gala at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in New York City, the name of the newest Zumwalt-class Destroyer will be USS Michael Monsoor.
Designated as DDG 1001, the name honors Petty Officer 2nd Class Michael Monsoor, a Navy SEAL who was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor for his heroic actions in Ramadi, Iraq, Sept. 29, 2006.
Winter discussed the qualities, values and dedication to duty that Navy SEALs exemplify, including the extraordinary acts of Michael Monsoor.
"Tonight I would like to single out one of those heroes from the community of Navy SEALs," Winter said. "Those who served with Michael Monsoor will remember him always as a consummate professional who faced terrorist enemies with aplomb and stoicism."
"The full extent of Michael's courage, gallantry and selfless heroism were revealed on the 29th of September, in Ramadi. When his team was surprised by an enemy grenade, Michael could have escaped and saved himself," Winter said. "But he chose a different path, a path of honor that embodies the way of a Navy SEAL. For having chosen that path, Petty Officer Michael Monsoor joined the ranks of those who have earned our nation's highest distinction, the Medal of Honor."
Winter concluded that Michael Monsoor's heroism and self sacrifice for his teammates and his nation epitomize the Navy's core values and will forever provide prideful admiration for our Sailors.
"Michael Monsoor's name will now be linked with one of our nation's most visible examples of military power, a U.S. Navy warship," Winter said. "His legacy will inspire the hearts of future Sailors who serve on the ship that bears his name."
The USS Michael Monsoor will be a multi-mission surface combatant tailored for advanced land attack and littoral dominance. The ship's mission is to provide credible, independent forward presence and deterrence and to operate as an integral part of naval, joint or combined maritime forces.
The USS Michael Monsoor will be the second Zumwalt-class destroyer. The ship will be 600 feet in length, have a beam of 80.7 feet and displace approximately 15,000 tons. Michael Monsoor will have a crew size of 148 officers and Sailors; it will make speed in excess of 30 knots.
Photo Illustration commemorating the Medal of Honor presented posthumously to Master at Arms 2nd Class (Sea, Air, Land) Michael A. Monsoor.
USS Robert G. Bradley Preps for AFRICOM Deployment
By Ensign Joshua Cowart, USS Robert G. Bradley Public Affairs
MAYPORT, Fla. (NNS) -- As the end of October approaches, the guided-missile frigate USS Robert G. Bradley (FFG 49) is bustling with final pre-deployment preparations, as the crew prepares for what will be, perhaps, the most unique deployment of their naval careers.
Bradley will depart its homeport of Mayport near the end of November for a routinely scheduled deployment to Africa Command (AFRICOM). On deployment, Bradley will conduct theater security cooperation missions to help African nations improve their security capacity. The crew will also train forces, of the many African nations they visit, in visit, board, search and seizure (VBSS) operations. VBSS teams are tasked with boarding and securing suspect vessels, conducting searches, obtaining intelligence and detaining persons of interest. Bradley's VBSS teams will help train security forces and naval boarding teams in this vital warfare area, thus allowing African countries to deter piracy in their waters.
In addition to training, service members will participate in community relations opportunities. Bradley Sailors will help strengthen the bonds of friendship and trust between the United States and the many nations of Africa by helping communities and showing African citizens that Americans take great interest in and care about their welfare.
Cmdr. Clint Carroll, Bradley's commanding officer, recently spoke of the ship's upcoming mission, what it would entail and how it will be accomplished, during a commanding officer's call. Taking the time to answer the many questions concerning ports of call, liberty and contact with family, Carroll also reminded Sailors that the mission is vital. He explained how the crew will set the tone for relations between the United States and others. He reminded Sailors that the opinion of the world will be directly affected by Bradley's actions while on this deployment, calling on each individual Sailor to give their best.
The Sailors of Bradley are ready. Following an extremely successful pre-deployment training cycle, crew members await the opportunity to put to the test all of the skills that they have spent the year honing.
Massachusetts Troops Deploy
Essex Completes Amphibious Exercises in the Republic of the Philippines
SUBIC BAY, Republic of the Philippines (NNS) -- The forward-deployed amphibious assault ship USS Essex (LHD 2) arrived in Subic Bay, Republic of the Philippines, after completing this year's Talon Vision (TV) and Amphibious Landing Exercises (PHIBLEX) Oct. 27.
The exercises involved two weeks of ground, air and naval integration training with the Armed Forces of the Philippines. The exercises are designed to improve interoperability, increase readiness and continue to improve professional relationships between the United States and the Republic of the Philippines.
"Essex Sailors did an outstanding job supporting the Marines as well as the Philippine Armed Forces during both exercises, further improving our interoperability with our partner nation," said Capt. Brent Canady, Essex' commanding officer. "Now that the exercises are complete we look forward to a much deserved port visit in Subic Bay which provides an opportunity to perform some community relations projects as well as enrich our cultural understanding of each other."
Essex arrived in Subic Bay to backload Marines assigned to the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU), who conducted ground-force training during PHIBLEX and TV.
The Marines of the 31st MEU conducted an intensive series of training exercises with their Filipino counterparts to improve their collective warfighting capabilities. Training scenarios included live arms fire, small unit tactics, and boat-raid training exercises.
With the operational phase of the exercises behind them, Sailors now look to accomplish a great deal in terms of humanitarian assistance and intercultural relations.
Sailors assigned to Essex are scheduled to participate in two community relations projects in Olongapo City during the port visit. Both projects involve minor repair work, painting, English lessons and a variety of interactive friendship building activities.
"We are not just here in a military capacity," said Religious Program Specialist 2nd Class Michael Brewer, of Hanford, Calif. "We want to reach out to help the local community and show them our humanitarian side."
While in the Philippines, Sailors and Marines will enjoy a three-day liberty call at the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) and the Olongapo City area.
"I look forward to going back to the Philippines," said Aviation Boatswain's Mate (Fuels) Airman (AW) Robert Sherman from Chicago. "I really enjoy going there and taking in the sights and tours. I plan on going to the aquarium and seeing the things I missed the last two visits."
Essex is the only forward-deployed U.S. amphibious assault ship and serves Task Force 76, the Navy's only forward-deployed amphibious force. Task Force 76 is headquartered at White Beach Naval Facility, Okinawa, Japan, with an operating detachment in Sasebo, Japan.
Technical issues, more tests delay Tactical Satellite-3’s liftoff
KIRTLAND AIR FORCE BASE, N.M. (AFMCNS) — The timeless saying every gray cloud has a silver lining aptly fits the Tactical Satellite-3 program during the past 60 days.
Initially scheduled to launch from NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility at Wallops Island, Va., in October, TacSat-3’s liftoff is now scheduled for January 2009 after the project team discovered, and then fixed, problems with the spacecraft’s Star Tracker apparatus. The team subsequently required additional time to evaluate the final version of flight software to ensure smooth operations during the one-year mission.
“We experienced a launch slip due to technical issues with the Star Tracker, which required modifications to the satellite and we also needed some extra time to finish baseline functional testing of the flight software,” said Thom Davis, TacSat-3 program manager. The program is part of the Air Force Research Laboratory’s Space Vehicles Directorate at Kirtland AFB. “The new launch date allows additional contingency for completing remaining testing requirements before shipping TacSat-3 to Wallops Island.”
TacSat-3’s Star Tracker unit will provide position updates to maneuver the 880-pound satellite to the precise location for mission operations. Scenario testing being performed on the spacecraft’s computer system through November will enhance that critical process. Once software assessments are accomplished, the program will conduct mission operations planning and dress rehearsals at the Space and Missile Systems Center’s Space Development and Test Wing at Kirtland AFB. In mid-December, TacSat-3 will be shipped to the liftoff site.
“We’re very disappointed at the program delays, but our testing has allowed us to fix problems that might have occurred shortly after liftoff,” Mr. Davis said. “I am now more confident that all TacSat-3 components will operate efficiently after launch.”
Established in 2004 to address military requirements for responsible, flexible, and affordable spacecraft operating in the cosmos, TacSat-3, administered by AFRL’s Space Vehicles Directorate, features three revolutionary trials: the Raytheon Company-built Advanced Responsive Tactically Effective Military Imaging Spectrometer hyperspectral imager, the Office of Naval Research’s Satellite Communications Package, and the Air Force Research Laboratory’s Space Avionics Experiment. The trio of payloads will offer real-time imagery (within 10 minutes of collection), sea-based information transmitted from ocean buoys and plug-and-play avionics to assist the warfighter in keeping one step ahead of the adversary.
Project partners include AFRL’s Sensors Directorate, the National Air and Space Intelligence center, the Dept. of Defense’s Operationally Responsive Space office, SMC’s SDTW, Army Space and Missile Defense Command, Air Force Space Command, the Office of Naval Research, and the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency.
Thursday, October 30, 2008
Milcom Blog Logs - 10/30/2008 - Central Florida
1809 165.2375 CBP
Unid radio check on Cape Canaveral with CHARLIE 100 OTAR data in FM
OMAHA 06 VICTOR, relay to JACKPOT, hour and 10 min enroute, 10-8 from Sarasota / input 166.4375.(C210, N6506V)
Homeland Defense Demands Integrated Efforts, NorthCom Commander Says
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Oct. 30, 2008 - In the six years since the Defense Department stood up a combatant command charged with unifying homeland defense efforts, U.S. Northern Command has moved from a past mixed with tension and friction among commanders and agencies to an international model of integration at all levels, its commander said yesterday.
"The synergy that has been created by this continuum of effort, from warning to consequence management, is what this nation deserves and is maybe one of the best examples anywhere in the world," said Air Force Gen. Victor E. Renuart Jr., commander of the North American Aerospace Defense Command and NorthCom. "We have created a true team effort."
Renuart told the attendees of the National Homeland Defense Foundation symposium in Colorado Springs, Colo., that effectively defending the homeland and responding to natural or man-made disasters requires an integrated approach that involves federal, state and local governments, and even international and private organizations.
In the end, Renuart said, the average citizen doesn't really care how relief is delivered, only that it is delivered.
"Our citizens really don't care if it's a hurricane or a flood or an airplane striking towers in New York City. They want to see if the nation is prepared to take care of them when these events occur," Renuart said. "So we have to have an integrated organization, ... a team that prepares for the worst that always questions the way we ought to be in the future, not [one that] just worries about what we've done in the past."
Renuart said over the past six years organizations have blended together that once operated somewhat autonomously, each caring for its own particular piece of the homeland defense puzzle.
Within the Department of Homeland Defense, 22 organizations were pulled together. Within DoD, commands were dissolved as others were standing up. Many agencies were suddenly responsible for working together that had not traditionally had a relationship.
Now, the agencies have been successful at growing teams, rewriting policy and securing funding and support, Renuart said. He now has the ability to plan alongside support agencies. This allows commanders and leaders to understand gaps in support and resource needs, he said. This type of collaboration will make homeland defense successful, Renuart said.
The commander cited recent support in California during its forest fire season, where as many as 2,000 fires were burning at one time in areas not accessible by traditional fire-fighting resources. A joint task force already was in place, and aviation assets flew 470 sorties, Renuart said.
Also, while hurricanes Gustav and Ike did not render the devastation that was projected, teams were in place to coordinate aid even before the storms hit land.
"In each case, we had the support of the nation to put a collaborative team on the ground pre-landfall to ensure that we could assist the states of Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas as they prepared for what at least looked to be a near-catastrophic event," Renuart said.
Renuart said 72,000 military servicemembers were deployed after Hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf coast. For Gustav and Ike, a few thousand were in place before landfall, and 15,000 were on alert. Integration of search and rescue efforts after the hurricanes was the best this nation has seen, Renuart said.
"That pre-event planning, that understanding and integration of capabilities, ... allows us to not just throw mass at the problem, but rather quick precision against the problem," Renuart said. "That's the nature of working in the homeland. It's not a mass-against-the-problem challenge. It is the ability to put the right kind of ... support against a challenge in the community so that the citizens of that community are cared for."
Renuart said the nation can never again consider NORAD, with its missile, cyber and maritime warning systems, and NorthCom, with its response capabilities, operating distinctly. The general said the strength of terrorism often lies in the fact that its groups can move faster than governments.
"Warning requires an integrated team. Action requires a national effort. If you separate those, you lose the ability to operate effectively in a ... decision cycle where our enemies can move faster than government," Renuart said. "We have to accelerate that process. One of the ways we have done that is to make the missions of warning and deterrence integrated into missions of response and consequence management."
Renuart said NorthCom and NORAD are integrated across their staffs. It improves efficiency, he explained, and it helps in integration, planning, coordination and timeliness of execution.
Renuart praised the Defense Department's recent approval of the assignment of a brigade-sized contingent of troops to NorthCom. The 4,700 troops will belong to the command for the next year, and are dedicated to training and preparing to respond to a large-scale chemical, biological, radiological or nuclear event or other major explosion. The force is designed to support civilian agencies that might be overwhelmed by the size of a large-scale disaster, Renuart said.
Before, forces were earmarked by the services for support to NorthCom, but the command had no control over their training or equipping. This led to an ad hoc, mismatched effort that was largely reactive, he said.
"That model showed itself during Katrina to be flawed," Renuart said. "If you wait for an event to occur and then you say 'I need forces to come and help,' ... those forces aren't prepared. They're not trained. They may not be equipped the way we want. There is no command structure established. There is no way to integrate those with the national effort in a way that is truly effective."
Now, DoD will annually assign forces to the command and NorthCom will mandate their training and equipping and integrate their command staffs into planning. This will add to the 11,000 servicemembers that NorthCom has identified for its missions who already are serving mostly in specialty units such as medical, aviation and rescue.
This first brigade-size element is made up of aviation and medical assets and nuclear, biological and chemical warfare specialists. But the bulk of its troops come from an active-duty brigade combat team at Fort Stewart, Ga. This has caught the attention of some in the media and activists who are wary of the use of federal troops on American soil.
Renuart said the forces will not be used to quell an insurrection or to usurp the authority of local governors or law enforcement.
"That is absolutely not the concept," he said. "These forces are ... organized, trained and equipped to go in and assist in an event that is of such a scale that local and even federal first responders are not able to manage."
Renuart said a second element, roughly the same size, will be built in 2009, largely from National Guard forces.
During the speech, Renuart cited NorthCom's successes working with the U.S. Coast Guard in its efforts to secure the nation's ports. The command also works with U.S. Southern Command on counternarcotics efforts and collaborates with Canada and Mexico to share intelligence on drug shipments and cartel movements, Renuart said.
The command also has worked to integrate its efforts with international agencies such as the Red Cross, and with private organizations. And it regularly collaborates with the Department of Homeland Security in what Renuart called "the model" for interagency planning.
"All of us have a vested interest in ... securing the communities in our nation," Renuart said. "All of us have to be prepared, and if we can't plan for that ahead of time, we will not be successful."
Milcom Blog Logs - 10/27-10/29/2008 - Kentucky
4477.0 AVS, Avenging Spirit, Civil Air Patrol: 1555 USB ALE (27/OCT/2008)
5306.5 KYAASF, Kentucky National Guard Army Aviation Support Facility, Frankfort, KY: 1617 USB ALE here and on: 4520.0 4882.5 5306.5 5880.0 6911.5 all USB ALE (28/OCT/2008)
5875.0 COROPS, US Military: 1523 USB ALE (27/OCT/2008)
5880.0 UTAASF, Utah Army Aviation Support Facility, Salt Lake City or West Jordan: 2352 USB ALE (28/OCT/2008)
6910.0 NNN0YQB, USN/USMC MARS Station in SHARES Region 6 Net: 1600 USB Voice (29/OCT/2008)
6982.5 KHA946, NASA, New Orleans, LA: 1435 USB Voice then to alternate frequency (not found) (29/OCT/2008)
6999.0 AFA4SAV, USAF MARS Net: 1345 LSB Voice (28/OCT/2008)
7361.5 TZAVGL & R23347, US Military ground station & helo, respectively: 1538 USB ALE (29/OCT/2008)
7630.5 AFA1QB, USAF MARS Net: 1350 USB Voice (28/OCT/2008)
8023.0 010CDCNHQ, Centers for Disease Control HQ Station: 1453 USB ALE & Voice (28/OCT/2008)
8050.0 WGY947, EOC Des Moines, IA: 1504 USB Voice (28/OCT/2008)
8161.5 KEYAVN, (PA NG?) & MUIOPS, Muir Army Airfield, Ft. Indiantown Gap, PA: 1651 USB ALE (29/OCT/2008)
8452.0 KTTN, US Military, Trenton-Mercer Airport, West Trenton, NJ (ID from Ron Perron): 1955 USB ALE (28/OCT/2008)
9120.0 NIGHTWATCH & NIGHTHAWK 7, US Military: 1526 USB Voice (28/OCT/2008)
10821.0 CECIL & BROOK, US Military, Cecil Field, FL & Brooksville, FL (ID via Mark Cleary): 1913 USB ALE (28/OCT/2008)
12216.0 WGY906, FEMA Denton, TX & WGY908, FEMA, Denver, CO: 1737 USB Voice & 39 Tone, Asynch, 2400 Baud Unsecured Data (28/OCT/2008)
Wednesday, October 29, 2008
Milcom Blog Logs - October 25-29, 2008 - Central Florida
UTC FREQ Oct 25
2039 267.500 SEALORD S
CHARLIE DELTA 172 to work W157A
2040 267.500 SEALORD S
CHARLIE DELTA 73 sides 148, 280> Button 3 (STRIKE)
2042 267.500 SEALORD S
CHARLIE DELTA 95 flight, wingman sides 113, 165
2047 267.500 SEALORD S
CHARLIE DELTA 312 RTB Cecil from USS SHIP
2049 284.175 USS Eisenhower STRIKE
Unid to Button-16
CHARLIE DELTA 71 and CHARLIE DELTA 154 air-air, "on Magnum"
2055 366.000 USS Eisenhower LEAD-SAFE
CHARLIE DELTA flights passing inbound calls and air-air
CHARLIE DELTA air-air? (no ID, but sounded like T-45's)
2059 341.975 USS Eisenhower MARSHAL
CHARLIE DELTA 130
CHARLIE DELTA 134, (Golf 70), 120 (Tango 4)
(Golf = VT-7; Tango = VT-9)
2102 284.175 USS Eisenhower STRIKE
CHARLIE DELTA 130 (Golf 99), 186 (Tango 3), 154 (Golf 1)
CHARLIE DELTA 134
2102 234.775 USS Eisenhower DEPARTURE
CHARLIE DELTA 151 to Mayport
2122 326.550 USS Eisenhower (TOWER?)
CHARLIE DELTA check in overhead the ship
2132 267.500 SEALORD
CHARLIE DELTA 125
2135 234.775 USS Eisenhower DEPARTURE
CHARLIE DELTA 148> Button 12
267.500 SEALORD, CD 148 emergency fuel profile to Mayport
CHARLIE DELTA 148 and 175 air-air, emergency fuel to Mayport
2155 267.500 SEALORD S
CHARLIE DELTA 148> B-9
351.800 Jax App
2159 263.500 Cecil Field, CNATRA BASE
CHARLIE DELTA 148 'do I need to full stop with CD 175'
2208 351.800 Jax App
CHARLIE DELTA 95 flight of 2, emergency bingo fuel to Mayport
CHARLIE DELTA 71, with side 154 emergency fuel
CHARLIE DELTA 120
2243 284.500 SEALORD N
RCH 408T, FL 220
UTC FREQ Oct 26
2131 126.650 CCAFS Cape Control
NASA 946 practice dives
2132 11600 KSC NASA Tower
confirm Papi's are in day bright (NASA 946 complained Papi's not visible)
2219 300.700 Key West NAS VFC-111
BANDIT 1-2 air-air (F-5N)
2225 285.500 Miami Center
380.300 Miami Center, FL 270, flight of 2 F-5's>
306.900 Miami Center, FL 240
2246 254.325 Jax Center
Unid direct Seminole
2254 317.525 Jax Center
BOBCAT 48 (T-45C, VT-9)
Milcom Blog Logs - 10/29/2008 - Central Florida
1817 121.750 NASA Ground
NASA 921 departure clearance to Gulfport>
128.550 NASA Tower>
124.800 Orlando Dep, to 14,000, direct Lakeland flight plan route>
126.950 Miami Center>>
125.175 Jax Center>
135.625 Jax Center, direct Seminole
1823 121.750 NASA Ground
NASA 901 flight, hold for release to Gulfport>
128.550 NASA Tower>
124.800 Orlando Dep, flight of 2>
126.950 Miami Center, direct Orlando>
134.000 Jax Center>
127.475 Jax Center, FL 230 to FL 280>
125.175 Jax Center, FL 280
1829 128.550 NASA Tower
NASA 946 departure to Ellington
1848 170.100 CBP ctcss 100.0
OMAHA 42 BRAVO (PA-42R, N9142B) working "Ft Pierce Ground Units" (not heard),
but 170.100 sounded like a repeater.
42B was trailing a suspect aircraft to landing. 42B cleared after the suspect entered the terminal,
and ground units in place. RTB to Navy Jax.
Also found 42B on a possible input of 166.4875, loud/clear.
Recorded 42 BRAVO with calls to JACKPOT on 350.025 and 136.375 with ETA.
2100 EDT 165.2375 CBP repeater ctcss 100.0
CHARLIE 100 broadcasting an Amber Alert, then cancels during the broadcast.
Coast Guard Gets Expanded Budget for Fiscal 2009
Special to American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Oct. 28, 2008 - The Coast Guard received a large budget increase for fiscal 2009 as part of the Consolidated Security Disaster Assistance and Continuing Appropriations Act, a senior Coast Guard officer said last week.
"In our operating expenses account and appropriation, we were appropriated $43.6 million to enhance maritime safety, security, and stewardship," Coast Guard Rear Adm. Keith Taylor, assistant commandant for resources and chief financial officer, said to online journalists during a teleconference Oct. 24.
Taylor said the money will allow the Coast Guard to hire about 500 new maritime inspectors, maritime investigators, and boat crew and boarding team members. The funding also will enhance the Coast Guard's ability to manage rule-making projects and provide for training and support, he said.
"There has been a dramatic increase in the amount of maritime trade over the last 10 years, as well as the use of our maritime transportation system," Taylor said. "This growth in this area will allow us to add capacity, to meet the requirements that we have, and begin to address the shortfalls that we have in this area."
In addition to maritime support, he said, the budget addresses Coast Guard requirements in other areas including inspection, command and control, and intelligence.
To fulfill inspection requirements for the U.S. towing-vessel fleet, Taylor said, the Coast Guard has increased its capacity to provide armed-boat escorts and to carry out security boardings. The service also is enhancing its ability to test contingency plans that address environmental hazards in the port and coastal regions, he added.
"It's allowing us to ... continue to beat all the mission demands we have across all threats and all hazards," the admiral said. "It's allowing us to keep critical acquisition projects on track, and being able to continue to deliver new assets to the men and women of the Coast Guard, so they can meet mission demands."
The Coast Guard received $38.1 million to help the Coast Guard establish comprehensive intelligence and awareness regimens. The funds will provide 100 more positions and enhance cryptologic service groups, which provide intelligence and maritime domain awareness efforts, he said.
The Coast Guard also plans to add more than 200 "watch standers" at command centers nationwide, Taylor said, to improve situational awareness and monitor the new rescue circuits.
Taylor said the increased budget will allow the Coast Guard to keep critical projects on schedule and meet mission demands.
Soldiers Make Sure Warfighters Can Communicate
Army Spc. Brent Moore fuels up the main power supply for the Communication and Electronics shop while conducting daily maintenance on Camp Victory, Iraq, Oct. 23, 2008. U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Amber Emery
CAMP VICTORY, Iraq - In a combat environment, good communication capabilities are the key to success, giving warfighters visibility on the ground and across their battle space.
A team of communication maintainers in the Communication and Electronics shop here ensures this vital aspect of the battlefield functions properly.
"The importance of our mission is to keep the warfighter talking," said Army Sgt. 1st Class Jeffery Klar, a maintenance supervisor in the 10th Mountain Division's network support company.
The Victory Base Complex shop has provided technical assistance to numerous locations throughout Multinational Division Center's area of operations.
"The mission of our section is to primarily take care of the communication assets for Task Force Gauntlet and Task Force Mountain locally, but we have extended our reach to any unit that doesn't have communications support," Klar said. "So we've gotten our name out there quite a bit."
The shop maintains both signal and ordnance communications through various types of equipment.
"Every signal system reaches to one of the two main hubs in theater, either here at Victory Base Complex or in Kuwait, and from there are two satellites from those nodes that reach back to the States," Klar said.
To ensure the soldiers are ready for any issue that may occur within the shop, they are continuously learning. The soldiers also work closely with contractors' field support representatives and other support assets such as Communication Electronics Command.
"All we can do ... is to keep up on our skills as technicians," Klar said. "There is really no set, defined way of saying, 'OK, if this situation happens,' because anything can happen. So most of the time it is common sense we work off of, and most of the time it is things we have learned in the past."
Klar said that despite a rough start, the mission has been successful so far. Now that the units know where they are located and what their capabilities are within the shop, he said, things have started to come into place.
"We are succeeding and providing them their support," said Army Spc. Brent Moore. "As long as everyone is able to communicate and everyone's happy, that validates my success."
82nd Airborne Trains to Re-assume Global Response Force Mission
FORT BRAGG, N.C. - If there's one thing that keeps the 82nd Airborne's deputy commander awake at night, he said, it's competing requirements that could threaten the division's ability to project no-notice combat power and conduct forced-entry missions.
Army Brig. Gen. William Mayville shared his concerns as the division's 2nd Brigade Combat Team trains to re-assume its role in June as the U.S. global response force. In this capacity, the brigade will be on 24/7 standby, ready to deploy anywhere in the world within 18 hours.
Its mission, if called, would be to forcibly enter and seize a defended airfield, then build up combat power to support follow-on military operations.
The 2nd BCT will reclaim the longstanding 82nd Airborne Division role – one some say defines the All American Division's very existence. The 82nd passed the mission to the 101st Airborne Division last year when it was called to deploy to Iraq as part of the troop surge. At the time, the division's three other brigades were already deployed.
The deployment represented the first time since 2003 that the entire division was deployed from Fort Bragg.
"We shared the wealth with other people, because the whole 82nd was deployed," said Army Command Sgt. Maj. Thomas Capel, the division's top noncommissioned officer. "We didn't want to leave the United States here without a force ready to answer the nation's call if they were called to do something. And so we started passing it around to other divisions to pick up the slack."
With the 82nd now enjoying what Mayville called "a rarity," with all four brigades now home, the 2nd BCT is training up to resume its role as the ready brigade. Plans call for it to assume the mission for a full year, rather than rotating it among the division's other brigades every quarter.
By mid-day Oct. 23, Mayville reported, the division already had conducted seven airfield seizure operations, dropped 36 heavy-drop platforms, conducted several tactical air-land operations and jumped more than 5,000 paratroopers, with another nighttime jump scheduled that night.
"It's important that we understand and maintain this fundamental requirement to project combat power and forced-entry missions," Mayville said. "So far, this is not a problem. ... But this requirement has got to compete with all these [other] near-term requirements," including operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Mayville's concern is that readiness for the quick-response mission requires practice – not just by the paratroopers and the Air Force assets that deliver them, but by every entity that would support the mission.
"There is a lot of investment in this readiness business, and it has to be practiced," he said. "You have to have a force that has all the enablers that would be needed in an expeditionary environment, and they have to be ready and work together and train together."
Last week's airfield seizure training successfully incorporated these participants. But Mayville said he's concerned that when push comes to shove, current requirements could compete against future training opportunities.
"I worry about this," he said. "This is not an 82nd issue. This is a readiness issue."
Mayville said he brings up this concern every opportunity he gets. "Readiness and no-notice capabilities do not happen by accident," he said. "[They come] with foresight, with investment, with training – joint training.
"We just have to constantly remind ourselves that as hard as things are today, there is something out there that we don't see that we have got to be ready for," he said.
"There will be a call at a time not of our choosing that this nation is going to turn and say, 'Get something there now,'" he said. "And that doesn't just happen because someone made a phone call."
Commander Discusses 'Jewel in Crown' of America's Military
SCOTT AIR FORCE BASE, Ill. - The United States military is the best-manned, best-equipped and best-trained force in the world, but that doesn't mean a thing if it can't get to the fight.
The 138,000 military and civilian men and women of the U.S. Transportation Command and its service components – the Air Force's Air Mobility Command, the Navy's Military Sealift Command and the Army's Military Deployment and Distribution Command – "are really the jewel in the crown" of the American military, Air Force Gen. Duncan J. McNabb, TransCom commander, said in an interview here yesterday.
The command gives the United States the strategic ability "that is just tremendous" to move and sustain its forces globally, the general said. "That allows our warfighters to have great flexibility in their options," he explained. "If we've done this right, they never worry about us. They just assume it's going to be there."
The command – established in 1987 –supplies the day-to-day needs of a military force fighting two wars and operating in more than 70 countries. With civilian partners, the command also stands ready to support humanitarian assistance missions such as the ones that followed the earthquake in Pakistan, the tsunami in Indonesia or hurricanes in the United States.
The command has its own alphabet soup of acronyms, officials here said, but the mission is simple: get the warfighters to the fight, sustain them during the fight and bring them home. TransCom uses air, sea and land modes of transportation to accomplish the mission. Command officials prioritize requests from the combatant commands and put together the best way to deliver the capabilities. Depending on the mission, requests may be filled by airlift, sealift, ground transportation or – more likely – a combination of them all.
McNabb said the transportation of mine-resistant, ambush-protected vehicles to Iraq and Afghanistan is a good example of the way TransCom works. In July 2007, very few MRAPs were in service in Iraq. Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates asked Congress for more MRAPs, and the vehicles began coming off assembly lines and were readied for shipment to U.S. Central Command.
As the "distribution process owner," TransCom has end-to-end responsibility for the supply chain, from assembly line to user. The command worked closely with industrial partners to plan the movement of the MRAPs to Central Command and monitored the various choke points along the way. The effort got under way in September 2007, and by the end of the year, 1,500 MRAPs were in the combat theater. To date, more than 10,300 of the vehicles have been delivered.
This was more than just collaboration, it was fusion, McNabb said.
"If you think about collaboration, a lot of that is just knowing what everyone is doing," he said. "But if you think of why you want collaboration, it's because you want to synchronize what they're doing. That's fusion."
The command flew the first vehicles to the theater aboard heavy-lift aircraft. Later shipments went by sea. In addition, TransCom officials had to ensure there were people in theater who knew how to off-load the vehicles and ensure they were combat ready. The command also worked with CentCom logistics officials to get the vehicles from airports or seaports to the men and women who needed the protection these vehicles provide.
This was an example of all involved working together to identify potential bottlenecks for the distribution process and put in place ways to smooth the flow of goods and materials, McNabb said.
"Synchronizing" and "orchestrating" are two terms constantly heard at TransCom, and McNabb said he wants to improve the distribution coordination in the military. The TransCom organization charged with this responsibility is the Deployment and Distribution Operations Center, "a true fusion cell," where members of the command and its service components receive the combatant commands' requirements and generate distribution solutions, McNabb explained.
In determining the best solutions to fulfill the need, the group asks a lot of questions, the general said. Should the goods be delivered by military assets or by civilian lift partners? Should it be delivered by air or sea or by some combination of both?
"I want to put everything together in a way that is precise," McNabb said. "You fuse your operation. You need to have redundancy in your system, but you want to make sure you have it all orchestrated."
With new organizations called joint deployment and distribution operations centers, TransCom now has the end-to-end visibility it needs to do its job and provide warfighters with better service, McNabb said. The first of these stood up in CentCom in January 2007, and now all of the combatant commands have them, he said.
Technology will help with the transportation mission, the general said, noting that TransCom is the DoD proponent for automatic identification technology and radio frequency identification. Both provide better visibility of cargo in transit. "If you can see it, you trust it," McNabb said.
The technology will allow maintenance or supply specialists to use computers to see exactly where their piece of cargo is. Overnight delivery companies pioneered the technology in the civilian world, and just as people waiting for a package can track where it is, DoD personnel will be able to do the same, McNabb said.
Eventually, the general said, this will change the customer's behavior. Now, supply personnel may order parts two or three times, because they don't know where their gizmo is, but they want to be sure they get it.
"FedEx changed peoples' behavior with their tracking system," he said. "People can trust that they will deliver it when they say. That's how we want [servicemembers] to view the supply chain. They can watch it every day and verify that it's moving. With that trust, you also save a lot of money."
The command has many other initiatives working, including how best to deliver supplies to places where the infrastructure has been wiped out and coming up with better ways to write and monitor contracts. TransCom officials are looking at ways to increase access to Afghanistan, and are working with commercial carriers to ensure that vital part of the supply chain is healthy. They are taking best practices learned from civilian organizations and adapting them to military applications, McNabb said.
The fusion idea is at the center of all this, the general said. When TransCom's new headquarters building opens here in 2010, the expanded operations center will include people not currently on the main floor.
"We don't know what synergy will result from that," McNabb said. "The idea is to get to where we are fusing all actions, and everything is on the table. When you have a championship organization like this one, people are always looking for ways to make it better."
Job No. 1 for the command is to take care of the warfighter, the general said.
"The very next job is to make sure we can do this for the future, and that depends on a strong sealift industry and a very strong airlift industry," he said. The economy has not been kind to the airline industry, McNabb said, so he is worried. He is meeting with airline chief executive officers in the coming weeks to see what effect the economic downturn will have on military operations.
"The partnership with air and sea lift companies is a very cheap way to maintain the military's capabilities for war," he said.
McNabb recently returned from visiting the TransCom assets in the CentCom area of operations, and from consultations with leaders in the region.
"What I found is how far we keep coming," he said. From the ports to airfields, he said, everybody is looking at ways to improve services to the troops.
"It is the way that everybody is working as a member of the team that is amazing to me, and humbling," McNabb said.
Milcom Blog Logs - 10/29/2008 - Mid Atlantic
All times are UTC and freqs are in kHz.
06911.5 KBDLNG (2/126th Avn, CT ArNG, Bradley International Airport CT): 2005 USB/ALE sounding.
08294.0 Herb (O/M EE): 2031 USB w/unid sailing vessel (O/M EE) passing wx forecast for next couple of days for North & South Carolina coastal areas as well as Bermuda.
08992.0 Andrews: 2343 USB w/28-character EAM (JL2FBD).
09106.0 KBPNNN (Navy/Marine MARS, Indiana): 1423 USB/ALE sounding.
09106.0 82KNY (National Communications System, Lenexa, KS): 1430 USB/ALE sounding.
09106.0 KNY58 (Naional Communications System, Gasden AL): 1445 USB/ALE sounding.
10821.0 KYAASF (Army Aviation Support Facility, KY ArNG Frankfort KY): 1915 USB/ALE sounding. Also sounding on 05880.0; 06911.5 & 09081.5 USB
11108.0 FC8FEM (Communications Manager, FEMA Region 8, Denver CO): 1520 USB/ALE sounding.
14396.5 NNN0VUV (USN/Marine MARS-Net Control): 1545 USB w/weekly SHARES Admin Net check-ins-AAR1DD (Army MARS-CT); AFA4?R (USAF MARS); WGY9498 (FEMA). More check-ins but net was weak and noisy.
16540.0 O/M (EE/Tagalog): 2012 USB calling vessel " Radian" w/no response.
Center serves as hub for air mobility operations
SCOTT AIR FORCE BASE, Ill. (AFNS) -- There is more to flying a mission than just hopping on the aircraft and cranking the engines.
Air Mobility Command's 618th Tanker Airlift Control Center at Scott AFB is the nexus for the global air mission for the U.S. military.
"We plan missions, resource the crews and the aircraft, task the missions to the wings and command and control the missions from here," Maj. Gen. Mark Solo, the center's commander, said.
The 618th TACC reports to 18th Air Force and is the hub for planning and directing tanker and transport aircraft operations. The air operations center is responsible for around-the-clock centralized command and control of both Air Force and commercial-contract air mobility aircraft.
When fully mobilized, Air Mobility Command has 1,322 aircraft it can call on. "We're not at full mobilization right now," General Solo said during an interview. "On a typical day, we command and control about 450 aircraft all over the world, flying 6,000 passengers a day and 2,000 tons of cargo."
The center plans about 900 sorties a day, including alert missions that often don't have to launch. Aircraft are affected by weather and by maintenance, and the enemy gets a vote. "We typically fly about 80 percent of those [900 sorties] day in and day out," General Solo said.
The command is always leaning forward, the general said. "There are days when I wake up and see something on the morning news and I say, 'Oh, boy. We're going to be busy for the next few days,'" he said. This happened most recently during hurricane season when, Gustav and Ike were bearing down on the United States.
In August, Air Mobility Command had to move Georgian troops from Baghdad to Tbilisi when Russia invaded their homeland. General Solo said an agreement with the Georgian leadership included a quick move back to the capital if necessary. "The move was something we knew was possible ever since they deployed with us," he said.
Georgia's nearly 1,800 troops in Iraq were serving in several locations around the country. In the agreement, the United States promised to redeploy the troops within four days at Georgia's request should the troops be needed for an emergency.
When the Russians invaded, "it was pretty safe to assume that Georgia would be recalling their troops," General Solo said. "So we started looking at what we might do, should that call come, and it did come."
Launching that mission was a display of Air Force know-how, General Solo said. Planes and crews came from around the area. They needed fuel to fly the mission. An airfield needed to be identified in case a mission needed to be diverted. Crew rest, security, overflight privileges and more went into flying the Georgian troops home. Meanwhile, Russian troops were near the Georgian capital, and it was an active combat zone. The Georgian troops and their personal gear loaded aboard the C-17 Globemaster IIIs, and all the troops were delivered within the four-day deadline.
Hurricane season also provides challenges. Airmen participate in planning conferences throughout the winter and spring with the Federal Emergency Management Agency, U.S. Transportation Command, state officials and others to ensure everyone is in the loop. During the past hurricane season, the command helped plan missions for aeromedical evacuation, pre-positioning supplies and getting people out of the path of the storms.
General Solo said an operation the size of the control center comes with its fair share of worries for its boss, but "I have such great folks working here that I'm rarely surprised to a large degree and a large scale."
"The folks are very good at what they do," he said. "The people who are here are here because they love this mission and because we are launching our nation's airlift and air refueling and see the impact that it makes. I don't have many sleepless nights."
The air refueling mission is crucial to the American military's global reach and success, General Solo said. The command off-loads an average of 5 million pounds of fuel a day. The KC-135 Stratotanker still is the workhorse of that effort, though the average KC-135 in the fleet is 48 years old.
"In order to accomplish that mission, you have to do an awful lot to maintain and upgrade the aircraft ... so that they're certified to fly in the international air traffic environment we're in today and they are able to deliver the fuel that we need in the volume that we need it," General Solo said.
The maintenance personnel have so far been up to the job, he said, "but it is a tremendous effort."
The Air Force wants a new tanker, and though the contract has been mired in controversy, that doesn't mean the aircraft isn't needed. A new tanker not only would improve the fleet's reliability, but also would give Air Mobility Command more capability, General Solo said.
"The tanker we're asking for would not only have 'stiff boom' capability that we require for [refueling] Air Force fixed-wing assets, but would provide the basket refueling for Navy and Marine partners and our foreign partners," he said.
Any new tanker not only would haul gas, but also would be designed to carry a good amount of cargo, and could be fitted to carry wounded servicemembers home. Any new aircraft also would have to have the legs to make a flight from Afghanistan to Washington without refueling, the general said.
The work at the center doesn't stop. "We have a mission that we've got to support every day," General Solo said. "There are two wars that we must support, plus hotspots around the world. We're providing support to theater engagement plans to combatant commanders around the world, and support to exercises."
But in addition to caring for the command's aircraft, the general said, Air Mobility Command leaders also must remember that the mission tempo also results in wear and tear on people.
"After so many years of conflict now, that tends to take a toll on people over time," he said. "We need to be concerned with their needs and make sure they have their needs -- the family and professional development."
Finally, General Solo said, the command has to keep an eye on the future.
"I know darn well that how we do things in 10 years is going to be different than what we are doing today," he said. "I have to look out there and see what's available technology-wise that will help us better be able to command and control and execute this mission in the future."
Tuesday, October 28, 2008
Carl Vinson Readies for Cat 3, 4 Tests
NEWPORT NEWS, Va. (NNS) -- The USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70) Air Department has prepared for a three-day test launch of the ship's third and fourth catapults, slated to begin on board Oct. 24.
The tests come three years after the aircraft carrier's original systems were removed for an extensive overhaul and reinstallment during the initial stages of the ship's refueling complex overhaul (RCOH).
Now that the catapult systems have been fully refurbished, rebuilt and installed, the department's V-2 division is making final preparations for the upcoming "no load" launches.
"We tested all of the hydraulic and electrical components and have verified that the system is ready to go," said Aviation Boatswain's Mate (Equipment) 1st Class (AW) Andrew Mudd. "We went through everything, checked for steam and hydraulic leaks, and we're ready to run the tests."
Catapult systems, essential for the launch and recovery of embarked aircraft during at-sea operations, rely heavily on large quantities of high-pressure steam. Now that enough steam has built up on board, the V-2 division is "ready to engage," according to Chief Aviation Boatswain's Mate (Equipment) Chris Hinson.
During the tests, a team from Naval Air Warfare Center in Lakehurst, N.J., will be present to observe and assist Carl Vinson personnel. About 20 launches will be conducted on the catapult systems to ensure they are operating properly. Catapults one and two were successfully tested earlier this year.
The tests mark a significant milestone for the "Gold Eagle" crew, signaling the rapidly-approaching return of the ship to the fleet, where it will rejoin the American forces in support of maritime security operations.
Mudd said a successful test will allow the division to focus on its next milestone: ensuring the ship's jet blast deflector (JBD) system functions properly before the ship becomes fully operational and goes back out to sea.
"When we finish up these last two catapult tests, we are going to be very close to having our equipment fully mission-ready," said Mudd. "We're working hard to make sure everything is in excellent condition and functioning properly so we can get underway."
USS Carl Vinson is currently undergoing its scheduled refueling complex overhaul (RCOH) at Northrop Grumman Newport News shipyard. The RCOH is an extensive yard period that all Nimitz-class aircraft carriers go through near the mid-point of their 50-year life cycle.
During RCOH Carl Vinson's nuclear fuel will be replenished and the ship's services and infrastructure will be upgraded to make her the most state-of-the-art aircraft carrier in the fleet and prepare for another 25 years or more of service.
Neptune Response 2009 Increases Contingency Readiness in Europe
NAPLES, Italy (NNS) -- Commander, Navy Region Europe (CNRE) hosted its annual training exercise Neptune Response 2009 (NR09) Oct. 22-24 at Naval Support Activity (NSA) Naples, Italy.
Three of CNRE's four enduring bases took part in the exercise to enhance their capabilities to respond and recover from catastrophic incidents. Naval Station (NS) Rota, Spain, Naval Air Station (NAS) Sigonella, Sicily, and NSA Souda Bay, Crete, participated in NR09, which was designed to be as realistic as possible.
Though the operational portion of the exercise was at different installations around Europe, CNRE staff members provided direction, intelligence and support at Europe's Regional Operation Center (ROC) in Naples.
Raymond Chesney, CNRE's regional emergency manager, said this exercise is one of the most effective scenario-based training evolutions in the Navy.
"It's something we don't test every day," said Chesney. "But, it is important to do these tests to understand what short falls we might have out there. The most important part of this exercise is that we use it to continue to build and strengthen operational relationships and base communication in order to be fully prepared for a real-life incident."
Chesney added that NR09 tests each base's command-and-control element and how they would communicate up the chain of command. Working through these types of scenarios helps CNRE get the proper operational and administrative support from U.S. Europe Command and CNIC for these types of events.
The exercise consisted of numerous simulated improvised explosive device (IED) and chemical, biological and radiological (CBR) scenarios. These scenarios were conducted by non-state actors whose terrorist attacks were both water and land based.
"This drill was very realistic," said Aviation Boatswain's Mate (handling) (AW) Julian Molinar during an interview in Rota. "The drill planners were using flares and smoke grenades to simulate explosions and different color gasses in the air. You can't get any closer to the real thing."
Molinar, a fire-team crew chief at NS Rota, added the drill opened his eyes to the importance of good communication skills because his team and other response teams were working directly with Spanish forces during the exercise.
The new Shore Force Training Center (SFTC) at Naval Base Coronado (NBC) Coronado, Calif., also took part in the exercise, marking the first time SFTC has participated in an exercise. During a phone interview Capt. B.J. Keepers, who directed the SFTC during the exercise, he said the facility provided "state-side" support for CNRE's staff during this training session.
"During this exercise we acted as CNIC's [Commander, Naval Installations Command] Installation Support Center, which is actually located in Washington D.C.," said Keepers, who works as a department head at CNIC. "Our job here [at CNIC] is to provide administrative support by providing manning, training and equipment for shore installations. The training center opened on Oct. 9, and this exercise gave us the perfect opportunity to continue to provide CNIC's culture of training and readiness to the fleet."
NAS Sigonella's fire chief, who helped coordinate scenarios at Sigonella, agreed the exercise was an important training opportunity for everyone involved.
"I think it was a great learning experience for all fire emergency services folks," said Jim LaConte during an interview with the Sigonella public affairs office. "There were a lot of coordination issues that we identified that are going to help us do our job better in the future. I think we need to do more of these types of exercises."
U.S Navy Ships Team with Allied Partners During Joint Warrior
HMS ARK ROYAL, At sea (NNS) -- Ships led by the commander of Destroyer Squadron (DESRON) 24 learned a little more about interoperability while participating in the Joint Warrior Course, a multinational exercise held off the coast of Scotland, in October.
The exercise allows NATO and coalition navies to explore complex, real-world scenarios while operating in a multi-platform environment.
For U.S. and British ships involved in the exercise, Joint Warrior was a unique opportunity to work together with allied partners while providing each other with key services and logistical support.
"If we take anything away from this exercise it is that we are stronger by working together and leveraging the strengths each one of us has," said Lt. Cmdr. Gil Ayan, the DESRON 24 material officer. "One of the great ways to create a bond is at the personal level."
One specific example of how the ships teamed together involved a Sailor from the guided-missile frigate USS Doyle (FFG 39).
Fireman Ben Stamps, a member of Doyle's engineering department, was transported by helicopter to HMS Ark Royal (RO7) to undergo dental work that his ship couldn't perform while at sea.
"I had a lot of swelling and sharp aching pain," said Stamps. "Ark Royal was out operating with us, and they volunteered to help me out."
Stamps said his situation shows how the two navies operate as one team while working in a joint environment.
"They (Royal Navy) have taken me in as one of their own and set me up with everything I needed," said Stamps. "They did an excellent job."
In addition to supporting each other with services, the two navies worked together to solve many logistical issues. Everything from parts to people were transferred between the U.S. and Royal Navy ships to accomplish the mission.
The fleet replenishment oiler USNS Leroy Grumman (T-AO 195), which accompanied the other ships assigned to DESRON 24 to Scotland for Joint Warrior, spent the entire exercise conducting underway replenishments with ships of both navies, showcasing the interoperability between allied maritime forces.
"Complex and robust units -- air, surface and under-sea forces -- were operating together during Joint Warrior," said Ayan. "It speaks to how well our coalition nations work together. We have more things in common than things that are different. If we deploy together as a multinational force in the future, we'll be ready because of exercises like this."
Joint Warrior is a multinational exercise designed and run by the United Kingdom's Joint Tactical Exercise Planning Staff (JTEPS). Taking part in Joint Warrior with DESRON 24 were USNS Leroy Grumman (T-AO 195); the guided-missile frigates USS Doyle (FFG 39), USS Hawes (FFG 53) and USS Klakring (FFG 42); and the guided-missile destroyer USS Mitscher (DDG 57).
Monday, October 27, 2008
USS New Hampshire Joins Fleet
The Virginia-class attack submarine USS New Hampshire (SSN 778) is commissioned at Portsmouth Naval Shipyard. More than 3,500 people attended the ceremony at the Navy's first shipyard. New Hampshire is the fifth Virginia-class submarine, the first major U.S. Navy combatant vessel class designed with the post-Cold War security environment in mind. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Fernando Allen/Released)
KITTERY, Maine (NNS) -- USS New Hampshire (SSN 778), the Navy's newest nuclear-powered attack submarine and the fifth of the Virginia-class, was brought to life Oct. 25 during a commissioning ceremony at Portsmouth Naval Shipyard.
Cheryl McGuinness served as the ship's sponsor, and gave the order to man the ship.
"Officers and crew of the USS New Hampshire, come aboard our ship, and bring her to life," she said.
McGuinness is the widow of Lt. Cmdr. Thomas McGuinness, a veteran Navy pilot and a co-pilot on American Airlines Flight 11 that was flown into the North Tower of the World Trade Center by terrorists Sept. 11, 2001.
"These Sailors are standing up for our country, standing up for freedom and standing up for our protection." said McGuiness.
"It should be comforting to know that their diligence allows all of us to truly rest knowing that they are keeping watch and that they are listening for anything that could threaten freedom."
More than 3,500 guests, including the crew's family and friends, submarine veterans and Portsmouth shipyard workers, attended the ceremony welcoming the submarine as the fourth naval vessel to be named New Hampshire. Approximately 1,000 additional residents of Portsmouth watched the ceremony on closed circuit television in Portsmouth's Prescott Park, across the Piscataqua River, within sight of the ceremony at PNS.
Sen. Judd Gregg (R-NH) served as the principal speaker during the ceremony. He praised the men of USS New Hampshire, the shipyard workers, and paid special tribute to the family members.
"Remember, there are families behind all these men serving on this ship," Gregg told the audience. "Those families sacrifice too. They have their Sailors away for months on end. Their courage, energy, vitality and vigor allow them to go on with their lives so that those Sailors can do their job of defending our nation."
In addition to all the dignitaries present was a special group of school children. Students from Garrison Elementary School in Dover, N.H., started a letter-writing campaign in 2004, requesting the submarine bear the name of their state.
New Hampshire arrived at PNS Oct. 19 and was warmly greeted by the community. The crew was treated to many events, including a lobster bake and several receptions in the local area. Several crewmembers also received tickets to watch the National Football League's New England Patriots take on the St. Louis Rams Oct. 26.
"To have the ship's motto the same as the state's motto of 'Life Free Or Die' is especially fitting," said Cmdr. Michael Stevens, USS New Hampshire commanding officer.
"The New Hampshire and her crew will forge a new legacy that will be coupled together with the stories and achievements of many great New Hampshire notables who helped shape the history of the nation and this great state," said Adm. Kirkland Donald, director of Naval Reactors.
This is the first time in 12 years that two submarines of the same class have been commissioned in the same year. USS North Carolina (SSN 777) was commissioned in May.
Cost-reduction initiatives resulted in USS New Hampshire being delivered eight months early and $54 million under budget. Some say this is just one of the reasons why the Virginia class of submarines is becoming a benchmark for future classes of naval ships.
Through their unique capabilities of stealth and endurance, Virginia-class submarines directly enable the Maritime Strategy core capabilities of forward presence, deterrence, sea control, power projection and maritime security. Equally adept at operating in the world's shallow littoral regions and deep waters, New Hampshire will significantly contribute to the mission areas of anti-submarine warfare; anti-surface warfare; special operations forces; strike; intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance; irregular warfare; and mine warfare.
F-35 completes air-start test at Edwards
An F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, marked AA-1, lands Oct. 23 at Edwards Air Force Base, Calif. The F-35 Integrated Test Force staff concluded an air-start test. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Julius Delos Reyes)
EDWARDS AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. (AFNS) -- The prototype F-35 Joint Strike Fighter AA-1 completed an air-start test validating the aircraft's ability to shut down and restart its engine in flight Oct. 23 here.
This ensures the aircraft, which is called the F-35 Lightning II for the Air Force, can regain power and fly safely in the event of an unanticipated engine flameout.
The F-35 Integrated Test Force staff showed the test points to 20 members of the local, national and international presses that same day as part of an F-35 media day. The aircraft arrived here Oct. 1 from Lockheed Martin's plant at Fort Worth, Texas.
The test marks the beginning of the "largest flight test program in history," said Doug Pearson, the Lockheed Martin vice president of the F-35 Integrated Force.
"This is the most comprehensive flight test program ever assembled," Mr. Pearson said. "We performed the test here because we needed to understand how we can support this complex piece of machinery. We also needed to understand how our team, both contractor and government, can function."
"It is a great day for our country and our friends, allies and partners around the globe," said Col. William Thornton, 412th Test Wing commander. "The F-35 is a significant increase in combat capability, but more importantly, it will provide America's crucial dominance in airpower."
Edwards Air Force Base was chosen for the air start testing because of its "unmatched combination of location, facilities and people," Colonel Thornton said. "Its remote location allows us to test advanced aerospace vehicle safely. We have miles and miles of lakebed runways. With this testing, we continue to learn how great an aircraft the F-35 is."
Saturday, October 25, 2008
AF Nuclear Enterprise Roadmap report calls for new command, HQ agency
The roadmap, titled Reinvigorating the Air Force Nuclear Enterprise, also recommends a nuclear weapons center and a single process for inspections.
The roadmap follows an unauthorized transfer of munitions from Minot Air Force Base, N.D., to Barksdale AFB, La., in August 2007 and an inadvertent shipment of sensitive missile components to Taiwan in 2006. The secretary of the Air Force created the Air Force Nuclear Task Force to develop a strategic roadmap to rebuild the service's nuclear enterprise.
"This roadmap will enable the Air Force to effectively secure, maintain, operate and sustain our nation's nuclear capabilities and expertise," said Secretary of the Air Force Michael B. Donley. "It will also correct long-standing systemic and institutional weaknesses in our stewardship of nuclear matters.
"This roadmap is our commitment to the nuclear enterprise," Secretary Donley said. "It's the foundation for reinvigorating the Air Force nuclear enterprise to reestablish the confidence in our ability to provide nuclear deterrence to our nation and our allies."
The chief of staff of the Air Force said the roadmap is going back to fundamentals.
"This roadmap reflects a back-to-basics approach in accountability, compliance, precision and reliability," said Gen. Norton Schwartz, chief of staff of the Air Force.
According to Air Force officials, the roadmap is vital to improving Air Force stewardship of the bomber, missile and associated logistics capabilities that form the foundation of America's strategic nuclear deterrent.
"These changes will be institutionalized across our nuclear enterprise, ensuring our commitment to excellence regardless of changes to our force structure, competing mission requirements or the size of our nuclear arsenal," Secretary Donley said.
To fortify current operations, develop personnel and sustain and modernize current capabilities within the nuclear forces, Air Force officials will undertake a series of action plans to address the root causes of the recent problems. The action plans implement approximately 100 recommendations grouped into a composite set of major actions that serve as the foundation of the roadmap. These major actions include:
-- Increase institutional focus and oversight by establishing an Air Force Global Strike Command, led by a lieutenant general, and a HAF strategic deterrence and nuclear integration staff office, to be known as A10. Both will focus on nuclear enterprise matters.
-- Consolidate sustainment functions under Air Force Materiel Command's Air Force Nuclear Weapons Center.
-- Implement a centralized Nuclear Surety Inspection process and increase NSI oversight.
-- Align strategic deterrent and nuclear operations-based education, training, career development and force development actions.
-- Implement a Global Deterrent Force approach for bomber operations that balances current global commitments with dedicated periods for personnel to focus on nuclear operations training and proficiency.
-- Consolidate planning, programming, budgeting and execution of nuclear enterprise elements.
-- Create Strategic Investment Plans that address long-term nuclear requirements, including those for cruise missiles, bombers, dual-capable aircraft and intercontinental ballistic missiles.
-- Establish positive inventory control measures for nuclear weapons-related material.
-- Create a coordinated, advocacy-based engagement strategy that enables thoughtful Air Force input to national and joint policy, strategy and planning processes.
-- Present roadmap implementation results to oversight committees established by the secretary of defense.
The roadmap incorporates ongoing corrective actions, as well as new initiatives suggested by experts from inside and outside the Air Force. It provides the fundamental guidance to organize, train and equip the Air Force's nuclear forces to ensure effective nuclear deterrence and nuclear surety in an integrated and synchronized manner, Air Force officials said.
As a follow-on to the roadmap, an implementation plan is being developed to identify the appropriate steps and timeline required to stand up the new Global Strike Command. Included in the implementation plan will be details on the criteria to be used for identifying a location for the command headquarters and the realignment of personnel and resources from under their current major command to the newly established AFGSC.
In the past year, Air Force officials identified and funded initiatives that were immediately executable. A total of $84.7 million was funded in the areas of nuclear sustainment, security, training and facility projects. For fiscal 2009, officials are identifying funds from within the current budget to continue implementation of nuclear enterprise initiatives and addressing emerging requirements with Congress.
Friday, October 24, 2008
Milcom Blog Logs - 10/22/2008 - Central Florida
1714 267.500 SEALORD S
BLUE ANGEL 7 (F/A-18D)
1836 267.500 SEALORD S
BLUE ANGEL 7 to work in 7 Xray next 30 min
1849 11342.0 usb New York Radio
TRADE WINDS 502 request phone patch to Operations,
do you need dep time from Santa Domingo? taxi 1815z, off 1831z, eta Miami 2028z;
Ops will pass to Customs for coordination.
1904 11387.0 usb HFDL
Ground Station 4 - New York
1930 11387.0 usb weak ee/yl with WX broadcast, off at 1933z
1950 289.950 Mayport NS Metro
ALPHA XRAY 770 calling Base Ops (C-130T, VR-53)
1953 308.500 Mayport NS Base Ops
ALPHA XRAY 770, C-130, inbound message
1957 372.200 SLAM 96 (sounded like) calling ' Star Aviation'
1958 123.800 Jax App
ALPHA XRAY 770 request ASR into Mayport
2030 142.300 Homestead ARB 93rd FS V-14
SHARK 21-22 air-air
2100 345.000 Coast Guard
CG 1500 calling Clearwater Air (HC-130H)
2105 143.800 Homestead ARB 93rd FS SOF V-1
MAKO 11 with MR MAKO, MAKO 11 code 2 for Saddle, MAKO 12 code 1
National Guard Provides 'Security Blanket' for New Orleans
By Army Sgt. Michael L. Owens, Special to American Forces Press Service
A Louisiana Army National Guard soldier and New Orleans police respond to a vehicle fire in the Lower 9th Ward of New Orleans. The soldier is a member of Joint Task Force Gator, which helps the New Orleans Police Department provide security. U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Michael L. Owens
NEW ORLEANS - As Joint Task Force Gator continues to help with security in New Orleans, many of the city's residents are becoming comfortable with the attention the soldiers and airmen of the Louisiana National Guard have been giving them.
For more than two years, the task force has assisted New Orleans Police Department and other law enforcement agencies by patrolling the streets and helping to keep the city safe. At first, many residents were nervous about the idea of having the military securing their city, but soon after seeing the Guardsmen working in their neighborhoods, they began to embrace the new guys in town.
"When you hear that the military is coming to your city, you tend to imagine mean soldiers with big guns, and that was the perception that I had," said New Orleans Lakeview resident Beatrice C. Marconi. "As they began working, and I saw that my previous views were not a reality, it became a joy seeing them in my neighborhood."
As the city began evacuation operations in late August as Hurricane Gustav approached, many citizens remembered that after Hurricane Katrina struck in 2005, they returned home to see that all of their possessions were stolen. But with the Guardsmen in their neighborhoods, residents were at ease about leaving their belongings in the hands of the National Guard during the Gustav evacuation.
Eastern New Orleans resident Kerry P. Wagener is one of the many people who put their trust in the soldiers.
"Ever since they began patrolling, their presence has made me and my neighbors feel really comfortable about living in our Katrina-ravaged neighborhood," Wagener said. "When I evacuated for Katrina in 2005, I left with the notion that my home would be robbed by looters. When l left for Gustav, I felt safe knowing that the soldiers would be there to protect our little subdivision."
Air Force Brig. Gen. John B. Soileau Jr., the task force's commander, attributes its success to motivation.
"Since most of the soldiers and airmen live either in New Orleans or surrounding areas, they feel a sense of pride knowing that they are protecting something dear to their hearts," he explained. "When you have a group of people with that much pride, it tends to show in their job performance."
After two years of working in the streets of New Orleans, the soldiers have formed strong bonds with the city's residents. Many residents think of the National Guard as a really close friend.
"They are always walking around and talking with everyone," said 72-year-old resident Gertrude Leblanc. "Like all of my good friends, I seriously hope that they never leave."
TF Gator has been reported using the new Louisiana Totally Interoperable Environment (LATIE) System 700 MHz trunk radio system.
You can get the frequencies for this trunk system at
Watch for the following trunk radio talk groups:
7000 National Guard Logistics 1
7001 National Guard Task Force 1
7002 National Guard Task Force 2
7003 National Guard Task Force 3
7004 National Guard 255th Air Control Squadron
7005 National Guard Task Force 4
7006 National Guard Task Force 5
7007 National Guard State Aviation Command
7008 National Guard Task Force 6
Hawg Smoke 2008
Air Guard Wing Prepares for Operation Deep Freeze
By Air Force Tech. Sgt. Catharine Schmidt, Special to American Forces Press Service
Air Force Staff Sgt. Les Gould marshals in an LC-130 Hercules transport at Willie Field in Antarctica during the 2007/08 Operation Deep Freeze season. Gould is a crew chief with the 109th Airlift Wing at Stratton Air National Guard Base, N.Y. U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Stephen Girolami.
STRATTON AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, N.Y. - The 109th Airlift Wing is preparing to begin its 20th year of Operation Deep Freeze, supporting the National Science Foundation in Antarctica.
Two ski-equipped LC-130 Hercules transports will take off Oct. 27, followed by two more LC-130s and a C-5 Galaxy from the 105th Airlift Wing at Stewart Air National Guard Base, N.Y., on Oct. 28.
The aircraft will carry maintenance equipment, such as engines and propellers. Crews will spend a few days in New Zealand setting up their base of operations, and then will head down to McMurdo Station in Antarctica to get things going there, said Air Force Tech. Sgt. Joe Axe, a loadmaster with the 139th Airlift Squadron who works in the Antarctic Operations Office.
"Once we're established in Antarctica, the first mission we'll do is to open the South Pole," Axe said. "We'll take about 50 people. That first day will be about three or four trips just to get the South Pole going."
This season, financial challenges have lessened the missions required for the unit.
"This season we're doing about two-thirds of what we usually do; we're only doing five [sorties] a day vs. eight," Axe said. "I'm hoping to get somewhere around 8 million pounds of cargo moved at a minimum. Our best season was 14 million. "
Another change this season is a test of new, eight-bladed LC-130 propellers. If everything checks out OK on the test aircraft, it will be added to the rotation, Axe said.
"We're hoping the tests go well and get done fast and it can be proven that the aircraft is more fuel-efficient," he said. "During the testing phase, it will be flying its own separate missions, taking a little bit of cargo and increasing that each time."
Crews started preparing for this season even before last season was finished. They gather information during each Deep Freeze and send it up the chain so improvements can be made for the next season.
"As we enter our 20th year supporting Operation Deep Freeze, the one constant in an ever-changing environment is the attitude of our airmen and their dedication to completing the mission," said Air Force Col. Anthony German, 109th Airlift Wing commander.
"The work ethic required to be successful in the environments we work in is the defining characteristic that led us to being selected as the best flying unit in the Air National Guard," he said.
There are different challenges each season and, this year, the challenges are financial, German said. "We will fly less missions, deploy less people and consolidate jobs in a number of areas, but in the end we will continue to serve the National Science Foundation in the same professional manner they are accustomed to. I look forward to the upcoming season with great confidence in all of our airmen to make this yet another successful season."
Latest Operation Deep Freeze Frequencies
5785.0 Scott Base Antarctica USB
9032.0 Antarctica Ice Flights USB
11255.0 McMurdo Base USB
Navy Commissions Submarine New Hampshire
U.S. Sen. Judd Gregg will deliver the ceremony's principal address. The ship's sponsor, Cheryl McGuinness of Portsmouth, N.H., is the widow of Lt. Cmdr. Thomas McGuinness, a veteran Navy pilot and co-pilot of American Airlines Flight 11 which was flown into the North Tower of the World Trade Center by terrorists Sept. 11, 2001. The ceremony will be highlighted by a time-honored Navy tradition when McGuinness gives the order to "man our ship and bring her to life!"
The fifth submarine of the Virginia-class, New Hampshire was delivered eight months early thanks to the Navy's on-going cost-reduction initiatives. This will mark the first time since 1996 that the Navy has commissioned two submarines of the same class in the same year. USS North Carolina (SSN 777) was commissioned in May.
Through their unique capabilities of stealth and endurance, Virginia-class submarines directly enable the Maritime Strategy core capabilities of forward presence, deterrence, sea control, power projection and maritime security. Equally adept at operating in the world's shallow littoral regions and deep waters, New Hampshire will significantly contribute to the mission areas of anti-submarine warfare; anti-surface warfare; special operations forces; strike; intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance; irregular warfare; and mine warfare.
Cmdr. Mike Stevens, a native of Tacoma, Wash., will become the ship's first commanding officer, leading a crew of approximately 134 officers and enlisted personnel.
The 7,800-ton New Hampshire was built under a unique teaming arrangement between General Dynamics Electric Boat and Northrop Grumman Shipbuilding. New Hampshire is 337 feet in length, has a beam of 34 feet and can operate at depths greater than 800 feet and at speeds exceeding 25 knots submerged. New Hampshire is also designed with a reactor plant which will not require refueling during the planned life of the ship, reducing lifecycle costs while increasing operational availability.
Thursday, October 23, 2008
Milcom Blog Logs - 10/23/2008 - Central Florida
118.625 // 239.050 CCAFS Tower
CAPE TOWER advising Class D airspace is active
5____ landed, departed 30 min later, after Charleston as filed
120.950 SEALORD N
GRUMMAN 88 with INVADER JACK 210 (not heard) "on Victor",
for signal check, 88 had them loud/clear.
128.550 NASA Tower
SEARCH 1 (UH-1H)
143.800 Homestead ARB 93rd FS SOF
REEF 01 airborne, RTB from MacDill (F-16C, 93rd FS)
Unid calling DEFENDER 3
DISNEY WONDER departure call
STATION PORT CANAVERAL with CONDOR 1;
STATION PONCE INLET with AUX 9013
SECTOR JACKSONVILLE, calling CG 6526 (HH-65C)
157.175 Ch-83A Aux
STATION PORT CANAVERAL
Unid, all encrypted comms (1404 local)
(have had AC-130 traffic here before, also possible E-4B and/or E-6B comms)
234.800 Florida Air National Guard 125th FW 6-Aux
FANG air-air (F-15A/C)
250.300 Beaufort MCAS VMFA-224 Tac
GRUMMAN 88 calling unid
253.700 Florida Air National Guard 125th FW 7-Aux
SNAKE air-air (F-15A/C)
255.500 Patrick AFB 920th RQS Rescue Ops
267.500 SEALORD S
275.200 Grumman St Augustine
Probable GRUMMAN 88
284.500 SEALORD N
RATTLER 1 (F-15, 125th FW), to 313.700
285.000 Jax NAS FIDDLE TSC
PELICAN 713 (P-3C, VP-45)
292.100 MacDill AFB 6th AMW
Unid tanker air-air
301.000 Jax NAS S TACTS Range Discrete
311.000 MacDill AFB LIGHTNING OPS
BOLT 42 (KC-135R, 6th AMW)
Unid air-air, "at 35,000" (possible Key West NAS, VFC-111)
313.700 Jax NAS SEALORD Discrete
RATTLER and unid in ACM
324.600 AR-617 / 638
Unid, UK accent
343.500 Jax NAS Metro
Unid requesting WX at Navy Key West
348.825 Beaufort MCAS VMFA-533
Unid, weak ACM
350.000 Jax NAS S TACTS Range Discrete
FANG 1-2 working STEALTH (117th ACS, Ga ANG), ACM
376.900 Jax NAS SEALORD W-157 Discrete
385.300 Jax NAS SEALORD W-157 Discrete
Unid relaying weather
USS Theodore Roosevelt Launches Op EF sorties
Integrated Antiterrorism Exercise Conducted in Norfolk
NORFOLK (NNS) -- Commander Navy Installations Command (CNIC), in coordination with Naval Station (NAVSTA) Norfolk, took part in Citadel Protect '08, an antiterrorism (AT) ashore/afloat exercise, Oct. 15-16.
"We are protecting capital assets," said Capt. Kelly Johnson, NAVSTA Norfolk executive officer. "Training and getting our Navy ready for a realistic situation by performing various exercises definitely ties into the CNO's vision."
The exercise's concept of operations gave the training team a chance to eliminate the ashore/afloat team by achieving unity within the operational environment.
"This exercise is designed to look at the gaps that exist and try to eliminate them," said Steve Murley, CNIC trainer.
The exercise only focused on the first step to a threat. Units participating were guided-missile destroyers USS Gonzalez (DDG 66) and USS Bulkeley (DDG 84), and NAVSTA Norfolk installation security from the Sewells Point Police precinct.
The objective of the exercise was to assess AT Navy Mission Essential Tasks (NMETS), and a broad spectrum of primary capabilities such as force integration and safety, and to introduce the position of the antiterrorism tactical watch officer (ATTWO).
The ATTWO is the eyes and the voice which actively tells other posts what to do and how to react to a situation through different methods of communication.
"The ships and everyone who is involved have Blackberry phones, force protection radios or beepers, [providing] the ATTWO and others involved a direct line of communication so that we can together fight the battle for antiterrorism," said Lt.j.g. Shane Jester, Sewells Point Police precinct ATTWO.
"Although we are only doing the first stage, there will be more training to follow in the future. We have to take the process one step at a time so the Navy does not leave any gaps that will make us vulnerable."
This exercise was the first of its type, led by CNIC, held on Naval Station (NAVSTA) Norfolk.
"These exercises have been held overseas in Bahrain, but this is the first formalized integration between the waterfront and shore installation working together here at NAVSTA," said Cmdr. Rick Cheeseman, commanding officer of USS Bulkeley.
Kentucky Troops Come Home
Naval Strike and Air Warfare Center Receives Unit's First F/A-18F Super Hornet
FALLON, Nev (NNS) -- The commander of Naval Strike and Air Warfare Center (NSAWC) landed the unit's first F/A-18F Super Hornet at it's new home at Naval Air Station (NAS) Fallon, Nev. Oct. 21.
Rear Admiral Mark T. Emerson took custody of the two-seat Super Hornet from the "Flying Eagles" of Strike Fighter Squadron 122 (VFA 122) at NAS Lemoore, Calif., and flew the aircraft back to its new home.
NSAWC currently has 23 A-D series F/A-18s, but this is the unit's first F-series Super Hornet. In addition to a training center, NSAWC is responsible for tactics and weapons development for the fleet.
"This Super Hornet acquisition brings our flight line into the 21st century and facilitates the advanced tactics development efforts by NSAWC staff," said Emerson.
NSAWC has also received two E-2C Hawkeye's and transitioned from their SH-60F Seahawks to the MH-60S helicopters. The addition of these aircraft to the flight line required the maintenance department to make some adjustments.
"The whole process took about eight months, and there were a lot of obstacles that had to be overcome. We had to ensure our folks were properly trained to repair the different types of equipment associated with the F/A-18F. This consisted of attending 'difference' training held at NAS Lemoore or NAS Oceana," said
Lt. Cmdr. Scot Husa, NSAWC maintenance officer.
"Additionally, we had to obtain the many different tools and special test equipment required for supporting this platform."
The F/A-18E/F Super Hornets, which made their maiden voyage aboard USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN 72) in July 2002, may look similar to the smaller A-D Hornets, but have been fitted with new mission computers, fiber-optic networks, targeting pods, joint helmet-mounted cueing systems and next-generation sidewinder air-to-air missiles.
The Super Hornet's two F414-GE-400 engines are larger and provide 22,000 of thrust, with afterburner giving the aircraft a maximum speed in excess of Mach 1.8.
"NSAWC performs a significant amount of tactics development and evaluation in order to support the fleet. Having the Super Hornet increases the accuracy and credibility of NSAWC's tactics and implementations of tactics and development into the fleet," said Lt. Cmdr. Don Bowker, NSAWC assistant operations officer.
In the coming months NSAWC is scheduled to receive a total of six F/A-18F's from various squadrons.
Wednesday, October 22, 2008
Coast Guard Search
E-9A crews survey gulf, track missiles
Aircrew members with King Aerospace perform pre-flight checks on an E-9A Aug. 26 at Tyndall Air Force Base, Fla. The E-9A provides support to the air-to-air weapons system evaluations as a surveillance platform. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Bennie J. Davis)
TYNDALL AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. (AFNS) -- Tyndall Air Force Base aircrews flying the twin-turbo-propped E-9A help ensure the Gulf of Mexico waters are clear of boats and aircraft for live-fire missile launches during Air Force exercises.
The E-9A is used as an airborne surveillance/telemetry data relay aircraft and its aircrews evaluate the total air-to-air capabilities of Air Force fighter aircraft and weapons.
"The (E-9A) is a modified DeHavilland Dash 8 civilian aircraft, modified with a sea surveillance radar and a telemetry antenna to go out and collect data on fired missiles," said Capt. Justin Allen, an E-9 pilot.
There are only two E-9As in the Air Force arsenal. Though small in number, the E-9A mission is anything but small, providing support for air-to-air weapons system evaluation, development and operational testing since 1988 at Tyndall AFB.
"It's awesome being a small part of a big moving machine that impacts the tactics and procedures fighters use on a daily basis," Captain Allen said.
In the first hour of a mission, the E-9A climbs to 5,500 feet scanning the ocean's surface for boat traffic. The E-9A doesn't direct traffic, it only tracks it, pinpointing and marking positions using sea surveillance radar capable of tracking 20 vessels within a 25 nautical mile radius. Latitude and longitude of each boat tracked is then transmitted by HF radio signals to the range safety officer on the ground who can see all the positions and establish a "shoot box" far enough away for exercise missions to take place.
"I help establish the battlefield in a sense," said George Mitchell, a sea surveillance radar operator aboard the E-9A.
Once the battlefield is established, the E-9A will climb to 18,000 feet keeping the right side of the aircraft pointing to the action to perform telemetry data collection.
"When we say telemetry, we say a digital data stream of one and zeros coming off of the item, in this case a missile. This information is broken up into words, blocks and bits of info that when added up can equal or represent velocity, altitude angle of movement," said Steve Reith of King Aerospace who operate and maintain the E-9As.
A large telemetry antenna created by Georgia Tech University in 1986 runs along the right side of the E-9A aircraft. The antenna is nearly 30 feet long with a cone range of 120 degrees and can collect data from five different targets. On average, the E-9A collects data about 30 miles away from its target, but the aircraft can be up to 130 miles away from a target to collect Navy Tomahawk missile data.
As a missile approaches its target, it sends off RF radio signals, that data is received, recorded and transmitted to the ground by the E-9A in real time. Due to the curvature of the earth, the E-9A aircrew act like middlemen relaying information to missile data analysts. Telemetry data such as the parameters of missile to drone closeness, the missile's reaction to countermeasures and percentage of kill are down linked. This information is then used by members of the 53rd Weapons Evaluation Group to write or re-write procedures on how to employ Air Force fighters better against simulated foreign aircraft.
"These missile tests we conduct are very important," said Don Anderson of King Aerospace. "It's important to test the same missiles we use in the field so we can find problems in test phases before they occur in combat."
The E-9A can be used for a myriad of operations such as research and development armament tests at Eglin AFB, Fla., Navy Harm and Tomahawk weapons evaluation, Army Patriot Missile tests and even search and rescue efforts with the Coast Guard.
E-9As are maintained and operated by King Aerospace, a privately owned company that also provides aircraft for heads of state and royalty around the world.
"We do everything on the aircraft besides providing the pilots," said Steve Reith. "There are very high standards here, it's not just a contract. King Aerospace feels a since of pride that we are helping America and that's from the owner on down."
A few years ago during a presidential visit to Tyndall AFB, maintainers from Marine One visited the King Aerospace facilities and commented that the E-9S was as well kept as Marine One or Air Force One respectively.
"We put a lot of pride into the E-9 and not just the skin, the whole aircraft is crisp and clean," Mr. Reith said.
Over the next two years, the E-9As are scheduled to undergo a series of digital and hardware upgrades to their sea surveillance and telemetry capabilities. The sea surveillance radar will be enhanced greatly to track 200 contacts with the ability to identify each contact as well as automatically update contact positions during a mission. The telemetry radar capacity will be doubled to track 10 missiles or targets at a time.
The E-9As are assigned to the 82nd Aerial Target Squadron located at Tyndall AFB. The squadron is a subordinate unit of the 53rd Weapons Evaluation Group and reports to the 53rd Wing at Eglin AFB.