Monitoring NORAD and Their Combat Air Patrols
As we move into the 2016 political season, business will start to really pick up for one United States military organization that is charged with watching the busy skies over the U.S. for possible bad guys – NORAD.
|115FW CAP Over Madison Wisconsin (USAF Photo)|
At National Special Security Events (NSSE), such as the two political conventions in Cleveland and Philadelphia in the next two weeks and the Presidential Inauguration in Washington in January 2017, NORAD and Combat Air Patrols will play a pivotal role in the security at these events.
Practically invisible after the end of the Cold War, North American Aerospace Defense (NORAD) Command now has a daily presence over American cities due to the events of September 11, 2001. After the terrorist strikes against New York and Washington, D.C., NORAD was suddenly thrust back into the national spotlight.
As a result of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, the North American Aerospace Defense Command implemented several changes, and made improvements and enhancements to its mission and resources to face a new range of internal threats. Configured to meet outside threats such as a Soviet bomber or missile attack, NORAD had to change to meet a new threat that could appear without warning within the U.S. and Canadian borders. Now NORAD is at the heart of the all the combat air patrol (CAP) missions flown over U.S. cities.
The organization was established on May 12, 1958, (an effect of the Cold War) as a joint command between the governments of Canada and the United States, as the North American Air Defense Command. Its main technical facility has been the Cheyenne Mountain Directorate, formerly Cheyenne Mountain Operations Center, of the Cheyenne Mountain Air Force Station, Colorado; and for this reason NORAD is sometimes referred to as Cheyenne Mountain.
Similar to the Cheyenne Mountain Directorate, but on a smaller scale, the Canada East and Canada West Sector Air Operations Control Centers were located in an underground complex 600 feet below the surface at Canadian Forces Base (CFB) North Bay in Ontario, Canada.
On October 12, 2006, NORAD operations at CFB North Bay have officially moved above ground into the Sergeant David L. Pitcher Building, and the underground complex has been "moth balled" but can be returned to operation if it should be needed again.
The Commander of NORAD and U.S. Northern Command (USNORTHCOM) maintains a headquarters and command center at Peterson Air Force Base in Colorado Springs, Colorado. The NORAD and USNORTHCOM Command Center serves as a central collection and coordination facility for a worldwide system of sensors designed to provide the commander and the leadership of Canada and the U.S. with an accurate picture of any aerospace or maritime threat.
NORAD has administratively divided the North American landmass into three regions, the Alaska NORAD (ANR) Region, under Eleventh Air Force; the Canadian NORAD (CANR) Region, under 1 Canadian Air Division, and the Continental U.S. (CONR) Region, under 1 AF/CONR-AFNORTH. Both the CONR and CANR regions are divided into eastern and western sectors.
NORAD Combat Air Patrols Protect North America
The military definition of a combat air patrol is an aircraft patrol that protects an objective area, over a military force, over a critical area of a combat zone, or over an air defense area, for the purpose of intercepting and destroying hostile aircraft before they reach their target. Combat air patrols apply to both overland and over water operations, protecting other aircraft, fixed and mobile sites on land, or ships at sea.
A CAP typically entails fighter aircraft flying a tactical pattern around or screening a defended target, while looking for incoming attackers. Effective combat air patrol patterns may include aircraft positioned at both high and low altitudes, in order to shorten response times when an attack is detected. Modern CAPs use either Ground Control Intercept (GCI) radar units or an AWACS aircraft to provide maximum early warning for defensive reaction.
The most common CAP mission flown over the U.S. today is done under the banner of Operation Noble Eagle (ONE). It is the name given to military operations related to homeland security and support to federal, state, and local agencies.
This operation marks the first combat mission for the U.S. Air Force F-22 Raptor. The United States Department of Defense also provides F-15 Eagles and F-16 Fighting Falcons to this operation, and the Canadian Forces provided CF-18s.
The F-15, F-16 and F-22 fighters assigned to NORAD have carried out intensive patrolling operations since the 9/11 attacks. E-3 Airborne Warning and Control System aircraft – from Air Force and NATO – have also been flying many missions and are used to direct action against any hostile aircraft in U.S. airspace. A large number of KC-10 and KC-135 aerial tankers have been engaged in this mission.
After the 2004 reorganization by DoD of the 225-400 MHz band, NORAD frequencies went through some changes. We utilized our exclusive milcom monitor team and flushed out the new lineup of NORAD frequencies. Load the frequencies in our list below and you will have a front row seat to the action in your local area.
Given the current security climate that we find ourselves in, I would strongly recommend to all readers of this post program our frequency list in your Milcom scanner or bank and you will be ready for whatever the contingency may come at us. You can monitor combat air patrol operations if they are active in your area on a milcom capable scanner.
Combat Air Patrol Related Frequencies
All AM mode.
121.500 and 243.000 MHz
139.700 228.900 234.600 235.900 238.400 252.000 254.200 260.900 265.400 270.200 271.000 274.400 274.600 277.600 278.000 281.600 282.600 288.400 293.600 316.300 320.600 324.000 327.900 328.000 355.200 364.200 (AICC) 386.000 MHz
231.825 232.500 237.150 241.200 254.475 288.200 303.100 304.000 313.300 317.950 320.600* 324.650 325.600 335.950 388.950 MHz
Have Quick 1:
288.875 288.900 298.275 298.300 343.075 343.100 375.725 375.825 375.925 376.025 376.125 MHz
Have Quick II:
225.150 235.050 239.950 252.925 257.250 262.450 267.850 271.950 279.950 279.750 284.150 289.050 293.550 298.650 303.275 308.750 314.450 MHz
*Shared with air defense
NORAD Static Callsigns:
Big Foot -- Western Air Defense Sector
Guard Dog -- National Capital Region Integrated Air Defense System
Hula Dancer -- Hawaii Air Defense Sector
Huntress -- Eastern Air Defense Sector
Side Car -- Canada Air Defense Region
Top Rocc -- Alaska Air Defense Sector
There have been some major changes to the organizational structure of this military command since it was last mentioned in this column nearly four years ago. This also includes the myriad of frequencies that are used by these defenders of the homeland.
The North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) is a bi-national United States and Canadian organization charged with the missions of aerospace warning and aerospace control for North America.
Aerospace warning includes the monitoring of man-made objects in space, and the detection, validation, and warning of attack against North America whether by aircraft, missiles, or space vehicles, through mutual support arrangements with other commands. Aerospace control includes ensuring air sovereignty and air defense of the airspace of Canada and the United States.
In May 2006, a NORAD agreement renewal among the all of the partners added a maritime warning mission, which entails a shared awareness and understanding of the activities conducted in U.S. and Canadian maritime approaches, maritime areas and inland waterways.
To accomplish the aerospace warning mission, the commander of NORAD provides an integrated tactical warning and attack assessment to the governments of Canada and the United States. To accomplish the aerospace control mission, NORAD uses a network of satellites, ground-based radar, airborne radar and fighters to detect, intercept and, if necessary, engage any air-breathing threat to North America.
As a part of its aerospace control mission, NORAD assists in the detection and monitoring of aircraft suspected of illegal drug trafficking. This information is passed to civilian law enforcement agencies to help combat the flow of illegal drugs into North America. The command is currently developing a concept for implementing the new maritime warning mission.
To accomplish these critically important missions, NORAD continually adjusts its structure to meet the demands of a changing world. The commander is appointed by, and is responsible to, both the U.S. president and the Canadian prime minister.
The commander maintains his headquarters at Peterson Air Force Base (AFB), Colorado. The NORAD-U.S. Northern Command (USNORTHCOM) Command Center serves as a central collection and coordination facility for a worldwide system of sensors designed to provide the commander and the leadership of Canada and the U.S. with an accurate picture of any aerospace threat. Three subordinate regional headquarters, located at Elmendorf Air Force Base, Alaska, Canadian Forces Base, Winnipeg, Manitoba, and Tyndall Air Force Base, Florida, receive direction from the commander and control air operations within their respective areas of responsibility.
Alaska NORAD Region (ANR)
The Alaskan NORAD Region is the binational organization responsible for performing the NORAD air sovereignty and air control mission over the state of Alaska as well as the northwest approaches to North America. The headquarters for the ANR is collocated at Elmendorf Air Force Base, Alaska, with headquarters Alaska Command (ALCOM), a sub-unified command of U.S. Pacific Command (USPACOM) and Joint Task Force-Alaska (JTF-AK), a subordinate unit of USNORTHCOM.
The ANR Commander is also the Commander of ALCOM, and JTF-AK. ANR is supported by both active duty Canadian forces and U.S. forces, as well as Alaska Air National Guard units. The ANR s Regional Air Operations Center is manned by both U.S. personnel and Canadian forces to maintain continuous surveillance of its operational area. The Alaska Air Defense Sector (ADS) is the single ADS within the ANR and is also collocated at Elmendorf AFB.
Canadian NORAD Region (CANR)
The Canadian NORAD Region, like the ANR, is also a binational organization responsible for performing NORAD's air sovereignty and air control mission over Canada as well as the polar approaches to North America. CANR is located at Canadian Forces Base (CFB) Winnipeg, Manitoba. The Sector Air Operations Center (SAOC) for Canada is located at CFB North Bay, Ontario. The CANR Commander is also the Commander of 1 Canadian Air Division (CAD). CANR is manned by both 1 CAD and U.S. personnel.
Continental United States NORAD Region (CONR)
The Continental United States NORAD Region is the subordinate, binationally staffed command responsible for the air sovereignty and air control of the airspace over the Continental United States (CONUS), to include the approaches to North America. The CONR Commander exercises operational control (OPCON) over all air defense forces within CONUS from Tyndall AFB, Florida.
Air Combat Command (ACC) and the United States Joint Forces Command (USJFCOM) are the force providers for ground, sea, and air units apportioned through the Joint Strategic Capabilities Plan (JSCP) to support the NORAD missions. ANG support is liaised through USJFCOM and ACC.
CONR operates in an extremely complex, binational and multi-command environment where political, military and economic conditions interrelate. CONR is collocated with a numbered air force subordinate to ACC. The CONR Commander is also the Commander, Air Force North (AFNORTH), located at Tyndall AFB, Florida, and may be designated the joint force air component commander for USNORTHCOM for unilateral U.S. air operations within the USNORTHCOM area of responsibility (AOR).
Within the continental Unites States NORAD runs the following air defense sectors.
National Capital Region Integrated Air Defense System (NCR IADS)
NCR-IADS is a unique sub-element of the NORAD continental U.S. region, which was established in response to terrorist air threats to the National Capitol Region. NCR-IADS has a coordination relationship with Eastern Air Defense Sector (EADS).
Eastern Air Defense Sector (EADS)
In 2005, the United States Air Force announced the consolidation of the Northeast Air Defense Sector with the Southeast Air Defense Sector (SEADS) to form the new East Air Defense Sector (EADS), which will operate from the existing NEADS facility at Griffiss AFB in Rome, New York, and provides military air surveillance for the entire east coast, east of the Mississippi River (east of 97 degrees West Longitude).
Western Air Defense Sector (WADS)
WADS, that is located at McChord AFB, Washington, is the western equivalent to the EADS mentioned above and is responsible for all CONR air operations west of 97 degrees West Longitude (roughly the Mississippi River).
The Joint Surveillance Site (JSS)
The JSS is a network of ground-base, fixed long range surveillance radars, primarily operated and maintained by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), but providing communication and radar data to both FAA and USAF control centers. The newest long range search radar in the Joint Surveillance System (JSS) that has recently been fielded is the Air Route Surveillance Radar (ARSR)-4. Providing air defense and air traffic control for the continental United States, Guam, and Hawaii, forty four joint radar sites were installed during the 1992-1995 period. The ARSR-4 was fielded through a $1 billion Congressionally mandated joint FAA and Air Force program, and each station costs over $12 million.
JSS Site Locations
Here is a list of the known JSS sites in current operation located along the perimeter of the US looking outward. In addition to the radar feed, each site has a communications capability on a variety of frequencies, including NORAD frequencies that are relayed through these sites.
Citronelle AL (?), Ajo AZ (AJO), Mill Valley CA (QMV), Mount Laguna CA (QRW), Paso Robles CA (PRB), Rainbow Ridge CA (QZZ), San Clemente Island CA (NSD), Cross City FL (CTY), Fort Green FL (QJT), Key West FL (NQX), Melbourne FL (MLB), Tamiami FL (QMB), Tyndall FL (PAM), Whitehouse FL (NEN), Mt. Santa Rosa Guam (QLR), Mt. Kaala HI (QKA), Lake Charles LA (LCH), Slidell LA (NEW), North Truro MA (QEA), Bucks Harbor ME (QYA), Caribou ME (QYD), Canton MI (?), Empire MI (QJA), Nashwauk MN (QJD), Bootlegger Ridge MT (GFA), Lakeside MT (QLS), Ft. Fisher NC (QGV), Finley ND (QFI), Watford City ND (QWA), Gibbsboro NJ (J51), Deming NM (DMN), Dansville NY (?), Riverhead NY (QVH), Utica NY (QXU), Keno OR (?), Salem OR (SLE), Jetburg SC (QRJ), Eagle Peak TX (QNW), King Mountain TX (QO9), Morales TX (QNA), Oilton TX (QZA), Rock Springs TX (RSG), Oceana VA (QVR), Plains VA (?),Makah WA (QKW), and Mica Peak WA (QMI).
The Air Route Surveillance Radar (ARSR)-4 System is three-dimensional long range radar that is the centerpiece of the FAA/Air Force Radar Replacement (FARR) program. The system replaces the earlier FPS-20 series two-dimensional long range air route surveillance systems.
The ARSR-4 system provides 360 degree azimuth coverage for ranges out to 250 nautical miles, at heights up to 100,000 feet, and for elevation angles of -7 to +30 degrees (stacked beam). Unlike the FPS-20’s which had two separate and independent channels providing full transmitter and receiver redundancy, the ARSR-4 uses two separate but dependent air-cooled solid state transmitter to generate the two transmit pulses (60 and 90 microsecond wide).
Copyright 2009/2012 by Monitoring Times magazine and the author. Reproduction is not permitted without permission of the copyright holders. Material in these post originally appeared in the June 2009 and January 2012 Milcom columns in Monitoring Times magazine.
The radar echoes (returns) are received by the antenna and processed by a seven-channel RF receiver and signal processor. The primitive target detections from the seven signal processor channels are further processed in a data processor (Common Digitizer) that provides scan-to-scan correlation (search and beacon alignment) and radar/beacon target merging (reinforcement). The data processor formats the target data into user acceptable message formats (13 bit) and transmits the target data to end users via a system of serial data links (serial in/out, radar cable junction box, modems).