Wednesday, December 18, 2013

In USAF News

A couple o' few items from today's Air Force Association Daily Report, aka the Usual USAF Source...
Slow Season for Hurricane Hunters

The 2013 hurricane season was the slowest since 1966 for Air Force Reserve Command's 53rd Weather Reconnaissance Squadron at Keesler AFB, Miss., according to a Dec. 17 release. The squadron, known as the hurricane hunters, flew a total of 34 missions for the National Hurricane Center, during the 2013 season, which ended Nov. 30—a significant decline from its average of 100 missions, said Lt. Col. Jon Talbot, 53rd WRS chief meteorologist. The Reservists deploy from their home base to St. Croix, Virgin Islands, from May to December so they can be closer to the action. Now that the season is over they are packing up to go home, according to the release. Storm taskings on the Atlantic side of the US are typically flown from St. Croix or Keesler; whereas, Hickam AFB, Hawaii, handles Pacific-based storms, states the release. "We need to be close to the storm to be able to respond quickly," said Talbot. "To do this, we have to make sure we have enough personnel, aircraft, and parts to run around the clock operations to accomplish the mission at our forward operating location."
Wait.  How can this be?  Remember "Superstorm Sandy?"  The big take-away from that storm was we were told that we'd see more and worse storms due to global warming or climate change or whatever other bullshit name for a non-existent phenomenon al-Gore and his minions use.  What happened?

I never knew this...
On Your Radar

New fairings have shown up on F-35 fighters; two ogival bumps on the top rear, forward of each vertical fin, and two on the bottom, one either side, just forward of the tailhook housing. Lockheed Martin test pilot Bill Gigliotti told the Daily Report the fairings are radar cross section enhancers, put there so air traffic controllers can see the stealthy F-35s when they fly through civil airspace. The F-22 has a similar device, and the Lockheed F-117 also sported a faceted version on each side of the fuselage. The radar reflectors—sometimes called Luneburg lenses—are removed when the aircraft is employed in stealth mode.
—John A. Tirpak
One would HOPE the devices would be removed before actual combat.  OTOH, I'd have liked to sneaked a couple o' those Luneburg lenses on to the T-33s that used to fly against us... "us" bein' the long-range radar sites I was stationed at back in the day... in our weekly radar evaluations.

And then there's this..
Minuteman Aloft

Air Force Global Strike Command successfully launched an inert Minuteman III Intercontinental Ballistic Missile from Vandenberg AFB, Calif., Tuesday, the command announced. AFGSC conducts live Minuteman launches twice a year from Vandenberg out over the Pacific Ocean to assure the readiness of the US nuclear ICBM fleet. Missileers from the 341st Missile Wing at Malmstrom AFB, Mont., fired the Minuteman III Dec. 17 from Vandy's launch facility 4 at 4:36 a.m. Pacific Time. They were assisted by Vandenberg's 576th Flight Test Squadron, stated a release. "Our Airmen maintain and operate this weapon system year round in some challenging environments, and today's test is a result of their tireless devotion to this mission," said Maj. Gen. Jack Weinstein, interim commander of 20th Air Force, which oversees the training and management of the Air Force's ICBM force.
One wonders how soon we'll run out o' Minutemen if we fire two o' 'em downrange every year.  The Minuteman III has been in service since 1970, so you do the math.  I don't think we're makin' any more o' those things, either.

I was stationed at Vandenberg Missile Patch in the wayback and saw quite a few Minuteman and other missile launches in the three-plus years I was there.  About which, this:

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Discovery Goes Up and a War Story

Occasional Reader Rob sent along a link to this video of Thursday's Space Shuttle launch...

Pretty cool, eh?  Watching this video fired off some long-dormant synapses about other such launches I saw in the way-back.  From my reply to Rob:
Today's (very short) war story...  The video reminded me of watching missile launches at Vandenberg AFB, where I was stationed for a lil over three years.  I arrived there as a jeep two-striper back in '64 and moved into the barracks, as all young troops do.  The first week I was there I was awakened around 0200 hrs by some violent shaking, accompanied by a dull rumble-roar.  Now, I'd been in a few earthquakes as a child and recognized the feeling...  I lept out of bed and literally ran out of the barracks on to the lawn in my underwear, yelling "EARTHQUAKE" at the top of my lungs to wake up the other guys who might be sleeping through this.  And all I got for my concern was angry shouts of derision (and worse) from my fellow airmen, who were NONE too kind.
One of the guys did take pity on me as I walked back in, extremely red-faced and about to fuckin' DIE from embarrassment.  "That was a Titan," he explained.  "You won't feel the Minutemen or even hear 'em until long after they're gone, and the Atlas launches aren't nearly as bad... but yeah, a Titan launch feels just like an earthquake."  The launch pads were about three or four miles from our barracks.
I saw hundreds of launches over the course of the next three years and was also involved in a project to see if our air defense radars could pick up ballistic missile launches (they couldn't and didn't, but that was long ago and radars have changed, along with the times).  That was pretty cool because I was tied into the Vandenberg launch control center in order to start my scope camera three minutes before launch.  I then got to step outside and watch the missile go from our mountain top, which looked exactly like the shuttle launch from that airplane.  Pretty cool, in other words.
You can't possibly imagine how embarrassed I was about that "earthquake" thing, Gentle Reader.  Military guys ain't supposed to panic, for starters, and we're supposed to know every-damned-thing about our service, on top of that.  I betrayed both principles in that episode and it took me quite a while to live that down.

Discovery launch photo from the Daily Mail link, above.
What's an EIP post lately without a re-run?


  1. We're going to be buried in snow and ice as the glaciers roar south into Bermuda and the global warmists will be there screaming, 'told you so!' I wouldn't want to do long range air search after years in the norther Indian Ocean and Persian Gulf where atmospheric ducting could give you 400 mile ranges one day and 20 foot ranges the next. I always meant to get up to Vandenberg for a launch but I never got around to it.

    1. I share yer opinion about the warmists... it's a shame they're still ranting and raving, mainly coz they've made more than a few converts.

      I'm familiar with the ducting phenomenon, too. Atmospheric inversions can be Hell on radar.

      A missile launch is something else... especially when they're shot from a hole in the ground. The Big Boys sitting on a pad are awesome, too, but in an entirely different way.

  2. What's going on w/your blog? I'm seeing all, and I do mean ALL comments without clicking on "comments".....just wondering. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year, Buck!!

    1. I included all comments from that old post in the body of the NEW "Colors" post HC. You shouldn't see any comments on other posts unless you click on the "comments" link.

      And Merry Christmas backatcha!

  3. Buck,
    I would think there are plenty of MM llls. The arms agreement limited the number to 450 at three current bases. There were MM at Grand Forks at one time. The Titan Reentry Vehicle was very large, thus the necessary thrust from the Titan missile. The MM reentry vehicle is 1/2 the size of the Titan, yet has several RV's called MIRV (Multiple Independent Reentry Vehicles). Perhaps a little known fact. Much of the initial R&D for the RV's was done out of a Green River, Utah.launch site using the Athena missile.

    1. Thanks for that info, Jim. I didn't know how many MMs we have.

    2. Each MM has mounts for 6 nukes, but of course 3 of the mounts are usually decoys. The Soviets created an effective ABM system, so the MIRV was just a solution to that problem. Each nuke and decoy can also maneuver, so they really aren't ballistic missiles anymore.

      The MIRV technology also made the BUIC system obsolete. SAGE was designed to be nuke-proof (well except for a direct hit). So in case of a direct hit they created the Back-up called BUIC. Then with MIRV's the BUIC and SAGE were effectively not a solution post-attack. Military technology is basically just another way to empty the treasury (deficit spending being the most effective).

  4. Great post, Buck, I always enjoy your re-runs. Seems to me the global warming alarmists are doubling down in the wake of all the bad PR they've received (and generated) recently. I just read where Reddit's science forum will no longer print comments from GW "dissenters." (See:
    Also, changing their name to "climate change" allows them to blame any and all weather events on man made global warming. Is this science or a petty pissing contest?
    Merry Christmas!

    1. Is this science or a petty pissing contest?

      Was that rhetorical? ;-)

      Merry Christmas backatcha!

  5. FAA multilateration20 December, 2013 05:01

    The FAA uses mostly transponders now. The radars (short range) are usually around major cities, but the plans are to go to transponders only (ADS-B). For example, in many cities you can't fly unless you have an altitude reporting transponder. So, if you have a plane without a transponder, you have to stay outside of the circle, and the radar ends-up seeing nothing new 99% of the time, and is multi-million dollar waste. The new ADS-B system uses multilateration with many ground sites determining the targets location. No rotating antennas are needed. Planes will be required to have mode-s transponders by 2015 I believe, and the old Mode-3A/C transponders will be obsolete (well, except for B-1, 2, and 52 bombers which don't have any money to upgrade).

    1. What? No more ARSRs? Ya think the Rooskies will put transponders on their Bears?

    2. FAA multilateration20 December, 2013 17:27

      Well yes, there will always will be those old ARSR's and FPS-66 that the FAA runs for the DOD and U.S. Customs around the border. The ARSR's are the only ones left that can do Mode-1,2, and 4 IFF.

      The little ASR's that spin at 24 RPM have never really worked very good (lots of software mods over the years), as they try to automate tracking, which is a very tough job even for a human (Helo shootdown in Iraq being an example). The DOD raises their hands when the FAA wants money to keep fixing those turds :-) Multilateration will be the fix, as birds and insects don't have mode-s transponders...

      We love to watch ATC controllers scream when a target pops-up on collision course, and the alarms go off. You have to wait for a minute to see if it is just a ghost or the real thing. Those guys are all one error away from being fired anyway.

    3. Those guys are all one error away from being fired anyway.

      I wouldn't have their job for love nor money. Stress!

  6. Buck, most people don't remember, but the old F-105 was a stealth bird in many ways also, especially from the head-on approach view what with very thin "dry" wings and almost no protrusions on the perfectly symmetrical nose-cone--all by way of being quite accidental, of course in an attempt to design a form for max speed at low-level (the F-105 was designed specifically to carry tactical nukes on the deck in Europe--it had an internal bomb-bay) Just so controllers could paint them on GCA approaches, Republic attached an extra-wide nose-wheel cover panel over the gear to give GCA radars something to "paint."

    1. Interesting. I don't recall ever being near a base with Thuds. As a matter o' fact about the ONLY thing I remember about them is they were butt-ugly.

  7. Should have read: "...something to 'paint' when the gear was extended."


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