Cameras and GPS etc

Message posted by Magoo on October 07, 2002 at 16:48:49 PST:

After interviewing some people and doing some background research into an upcoming article on Red Flag, I may have a couple of answers to questions and comments that appear in pics appearing in DLR recently.

Occasionally we will see pics of radar sites, mobile SAM units and other equipment, particularly in the Bald Mtn, Cedar Pass and Back gate areas. Almost all of these units have what looks like a security camera unit attached to them. Various theories about whether these are used for security or for targetting etc have emerged, but I suspect their use is a much more benign one.

I was fortunate enough to see some video shot from a 'red' force SAM site somewhere in the ranges, of attacking 'blue' force aircraft. This video was taken as the site was tracking various low-flying aircraft (F-15, F-16, B-1B etc), and had a title page before each segment like "SA8 vs B-1B" or similar. The video was overlayed with what looked like an oscillascope read out which in fact was an indicator of how strong or weak the radar lock was on the aircraft, and there was also a commentated sound-track, presumably by an instructor. Comments like "good use of chaff there", or "this guy is really weaving..tough to maintain a lock" are heard. Apparently these videos are played back to the radar operators and the pilots back at the Air Warfare Center at Nellis during the Flag exercises for training purposes.

There are also cameras positioned throughout the ranges to record hits and misses on targets, and these are often at high points or on towers with good fields of view. They can zoom right in on the target area and measure CEPs, and then transmit these back to the Air Warfare Center in real time for assessment. There are alot of these in the TTR and Area 4 areas. I'm not sure if that's why the camera is on Bald Mtn, as I know there are no target fields near there, but it may explain many of the others.

As for GPS and other antennae etc, I thnk you'll find that many of these may be used to relay alot of the ACMI information, again back to the Air Warfare Center. The red flag aircraft all carry AIS pods, basically an AIM-9 body with instruments which record the aircraft's position, airspeed, altitude and heading at all times. This data is tranmsitted through the ACMI network in the range (i.e. the antennae), and is then correlated and mixed with all other participating aircraft and then turned into a nice 3D display on a huge screen back at Nellis for real-time and post flight analysis.

Richard Cliff has written a nice piece on ACMI in the Red Flag section of this site.



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