Power projection and battlespace dominance, so prominent in the Navy's 21st century missions, are possible only with effective organic MCM reconnaissance-and-avoidance capabilities within the battle groups and ARGs themselves. In tomorrow's regional conflicts and in littoral warfare, we will not have the luxury we did in Operation Desert Storm to call 911, then wait several weeks for the dedicated MCM forces to arrive. The battle groups and ARGs, with their key MCM-capable ships (submarines, destroyers, cruisers, and amphibious ships), must be able to counter potential and real mine threats where they are and as the forces move forward (in-stride) using individual self defense and collective group defense.
This organic subsurface, air, and surface MCM that is so vital to the battle groups and ARGs will complement and strengthen the efforts of our dedicated supporting MCM forces, when they in turn arrive. Our 21st-century Navy vitally needs both organic and dedicated supporting MCM capabilities. Today, it has excellent dedicated MCM forces, but—six years after Operation Desert Storm—we still have essentially zero organic MCM in our surface ships and submarines, and thus none in our battle groups and ARGs.
Three high-priority near-term and real-time organic MCM programs are required—all three of equal importance because they complement each other perfectly and provide the much needed synergism. These are:
Organic subsurface mine countermeasures (SSMCM) . Submarines can provide mine reconnaissance well ahead of the battle group or ARG prior to the commencement of hostilities. Submarines are the ideal platform for covert mine reconnaissance of potentially key waters in a forthcoming regional conflict. The Director of Submarine Warfare and the Director of Expeditionary and Mine Warfare have been working closely on just this capability. The Near-Term Mine Reconnaissance System (NMRS) and the Long-Term Mine Reconnaissance System (LMRS) now being developed by industry and the Navy will include unmanned underwater vehicles (UUVs) that when launched and recovered from parent submarines will be able to find and report where the minefields are—and where they are not. This is priceless information for forces entering the area. These systems also will provide minefield avoidance for the submarine platform performing the early mine reconnaissance. Early definition of the underwater battle space is crucial for forthcoming transits and operations.
Organic airborne MCM (AMCM). Versions of the SH-60 Seahawk helicopter are scheduled to go on board our Arleigh Burke (DDG-51) guided-missile destroyers, Ticonderoga (CG-47)-class Aegis guided-missile cruisers, and probably our new SC-21 surface combatants. This makes them the logical platform for organic AMCM in the future. The beauty of the helicopter in MCM is that it is out of the medium (water), can fly well ahead of its parent ship—the lead (picket) surface ship—and report where the mines are and are not. Helicopters can do this in-stride as our forces approach potentially hostile waters as they go "anytime, anywhere" to carry out national interests. In addition, these helicopter crews—intermingled with the surface ship crews—create the synergism of air and surface warfare. whose effectiveness has been demonstrated over the years in antisubmarine warfare.
Many very-high-payoff programs in industry or in development today can be integrated with the H-60 family of helicopters. These include (for detection) lightweight towed sonars, laser line scans for identification of bottom mines, and laser technology for detection of floating or moored mines; and (for neutralization) the Rapid Airborne Mine Clearance System (RAMICS) for neutralizing the mines detected by laser technology and the Airborne Mine Neutralization System (AMNS) for neutralizing the mines found by sonar. The Directors of Expeditionary and Mine Warfare, Surface Warfare, and Air Warfare each are working on the pieces of this in-stride AMCM capability to find and neutralize mines.
What is needed to start getting these already mature programs (some have been developed over the past six-to-ten years) into the fleet soonest is multiplatform sponsorship and teamwork to acquire organic AMCM not by 2005 or later as now programmed, but by 2000. This can be done, but it will take consensus across the warfare areas, plus the vision, guts, and staying power within the Program Objective Memorandum (POM) and budget process to turn this vital need into a reality. The encouraging news is that the Directors already are pursuing this effort; the not-so-encouraging news is that the accelerating budget crunches are forcing study, debate, cuts, and the inevitable movement to the right. In fact, the Navy POM predicts that AMCM will not be fully effective until 2015.
Organic surface MCM (SMCM). MCM capabilities are needed on board several key ships in each battle group and ARG. The Directors of Expeditionary and Mine Warfare, and Surface Warfare are working together on this requirement. The encouraging news is that the Navy and industry already have developed the Remote Minehunting System (RMS) that could go on our surface ships by 1999, if funding were available. The system uses a remotely controlled semi-submersible vehicle with high-performance mine-hunting sensors that can move out ahead of the controlling ship and thus the battle group, and find where the mines are and are not. This capability, coupled with eventual laser identification capabilities, will provide priceless real-time-knowledge to the battle group. Placing these systems on our Arleigh Burke -class guided-missile destroyers can be accelerated substantially to give us the capability ahead of the present far-right programmatic drift to 2003 and beyond. Again, we need consensus, teamwork, and drive within the Navy POM and budget process to get this vital RMS capability into the fleet as soon as possible.
Admiral Mike Boorda, our former CNO, captured the essence of this vital need for fleet MCM capabilities in his " Mine Countermeasures—an Integral Part of Our Strategy and Our Forces " white paper of 13 December 1995. In this Magna Carta, he stated "We must have organic sensors, systems, tactics, training and planning integrated into the Fleet, to ‘damn the torpedoes' and achieve mission objectives within desired timeliness." He added, "Our most immediate goal in this vital naval warfare area is to ‘mainstream' mine warfare, and especially mine countermeasures, into Navy and Marine Corps planning for, and execution of, Joint and Combined force operations in the littorals."
With the introduction and mainstreaming of organic MCM capabilities in and on the Navy's submarines (SSMCM), fleet helicopters (AMCM), and surface ships (SMCM) in turn will come the tremendous constituency of our many Sailors on board these MCM-capable platforms. The officers and crews will learn what these MCM capabilities are for, and how to maximize their effectiveness and contribution to their individual platforms as well as to their battle group or ARG. As in traditional organic antisubmarine warfare, our seagoing warriors will then exert a pull for better and more effective MCM capabilities and upgrades. While incorporating and mainstreaming MCM on board our platforms at sea, it is just as important to have pulling as it is pushing.
Only with organic subsurface, airborne, and surface mine countermeasures working synergistically in-stride with the battle groups and ARGs—and later with arriving dedicated/supporting MCM forces—will the U.S Navy be able to project power and ensure maritime dominance in the 21st century "anytime, anywhere."
Admiral Horne is Chairman of the Mine Warfare Subcommittee of the National Defense Industrial Association’s Expeditionary Warfare Committee. He served as Commander Warfare Command (1979 to 1984) and Commander Naval Forces Korea before retiring in 1987.
Battle Space Control—Something Is Missing
By Rear Admiral Riley D. Mixson, U.S. Navy (Retired), and Major General John A. Corder, U.S. Air Force (Retired)
Airmen who have "been there and done that" hold that all-weather target destruction in conjunction with keeping enemy surface-to-air missiles (SAMs) in their launch tubes is absolutely essential in a war-winning strategy.
In fact, strike-fighter pilots cannot get enough of SAM suppression. Yet, the very mission—electronic warfare/jamming—that does just that, and saves their bacon in war, loses its luster and support during peacetime. It gets lip service, or worse, an elixir is touted to solve the survivability problem.
As we transition into the 21st century much has been done to get a grip on the night all-weather attack capability. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for electronic warfare. By 1993, the Navy had canceled the EA-6B jamming system upgrade program, while the Air Force had long since pulled out of the airborne self-protection jammer (ASPJ) program and was struggling with the EF- 111 upgrade program. As a result of this disarray in Navy and Air Force electronic warfare programs, the Office of the Secretary of Defense in the fall of 1993 chartered the Joint Tactical Aircraft Electronic Warfare Study (JTAEWS), to look at the current state of tactical aircraft electronic warfare protection and to recommend future improvements. The Navy, Marine Corps, and the Air Force participated.
By the spring of 1994, the services and the Joint Requirements Oversight Council (JROC) had developed and approved a set of requirements. A major theme of the study, supported by the approved recommendations and the associated comprehensive modeling and simulation, was that a balance between low observability, aircraft self-protection, destructive suppression of surface-based air defenses, plus standoff and penetrating support jamming would continue as requirements when penetrating enemy airspace well into the 21st century.
In the support jamming area, the JROC—concerned with the replacement of the EA-6B and the EF-111 support jamming aircraft—recommended that a detailed analysis be conducted to understand the cost benefit of three future alternative concepts for the mission:
- Another manned, penetrating, fighter-like aircraft
- A large, very-high-power, standoff aircraft
- A penetrating, uninhabited aerial vehicle
Unfortunately, the analysis on the three concepts was never conducted. Instead, the Pentagon decided to phase out the EF- 11 (currently in the final stages) and give the support jamming mission to the EA-6B, which will be flown jointly by Navy and Air Force crews
The Navy is funding what is necessary to keep the EA-6B airframes flight-worthy, but has provided very little funding to upgrade the jamming system to handle modern threats even though the Congress continues to support the jamming system upgrade. The EA-6B Improved Capability III (ICAP III) competition is currently in progress. There is hope, but no guarantee, that a contract will be awarded sometime this year to provide interim warfighting system upgrades.
Although the present effort is overdue, the EA-6B design is dated. There are some things impossible to fix in an aging platform, including:
- Aerodynamic performance to keep pace with today's strike aircraft
- Longer ground and deck turn around times, caused by the decreasing reliability and maintainability of older systems
- Overall resultant higher operations and maintenance costs associated with any aging system such as the EA-6B
The question is not whether the EA-6B will be replaced, but rather when and how .
Some believe that signature control and stealth will be enough to ensure tactical aircraft survivability into the next century. History and technology's rate-of-change argue that this Maginot Linementality is flawed. It is only a matter of time, perhaps five to eight years, until advanced threats will be able to detect, track, and attack stealth aircraft—and will need to be suppressed. Also, the inherent high cost to produce all-aspect stealth aircraft, coupled with the extreme and costly maintenance efforts to maintain signature, might dictate that future joint tactical aircraft have limited signature control features.
The integrated defensive electronic countermeasures (IDECM) program with its towed decoys will provide good aircraft self-protection against the current SAM missiles, but countermeasures probably are already in the works. Finally, while there is much rhetoric within the Air Force and Navy about the destructive suppression of surface-based air defenses, the actual dominating air superiority capability in this area, similar to that provided in times past by F-4G Wild Weasels, is nowhere in evidence.
Given this background, the Navy has begun thinking about support jamming after the EA-6B. As the threat expands and improves with new and upgraded systems, the importance of tactical command-and-control warfare (which includes electronic warfare, physical destruction, operational security, military deception and psychological operations) will continue to grow. Undoubtedly, there will be movement toward a "system of systems" concept, using unmanned aerial vehicles as well as space-based and large standoff manned assets. Highly maneuverable manned tactical platforms, however, also will continue to be a critical element of that system as it matures.
The move to a totally unmanned and space-based platforms system architecture will be evolutionary, not revolutionary, if for no other reason than affordability. Even if technology permits, it is safe to say that maturation of the system of systems concept will depend on incremental, phased growth over several decades.
Retention of a strong command-and-control warfare (electronic-warfare) capability will remain essential and critical to support the roles of expeditionary warfare whether from ashore or afloat. Carrier-based tactical air wings, because of their mobility and forward deployed status, depend in the initial stages of conflict, on organic assets. The U.S. Air Force Expeditionary Wing also relies on tailored packages that may require a suppression jamming capability. Whether the mission is power projection from afar or action off the coast of a belligerent nation, the key ingredient is compatibility to deploy to the battle space. That deployment must include protection en route and within the battle space without degrading the responsiveness of the other mission aircraft.
If one believes that full-spectrum battle space dominance requires a balance of capabilities for jamming and suppression of both enemy command-and-control networks and air-defense radars deep into enemy territory, then the answer is to find an affordable and effective replacement for the venerable EA-6B. One potential solution is a design based upon the two seat FlA-18F. Called the F/A-18G, this solution provides intrinsic carrier suitability and multimission capability readily adaptable to the electronic warfare role. In addition, this approach is compatible with air expeditionary force concepts where composite air wings are forward deployed to land bases.
Such an approach provides increased air wing commonality for the Navy and continues the neck-down strategy that ultimately will reduce training and logistics costs for naval aviation. This approach also increases tactical commonality and compatibility in flight performance and maneuverability with other elements of the airborne package. The F/A-18G would retain all the basic air-to-air and air-to-surface capabilities of the F/A-18E/F, while adding capability to perform autonomous precision location/targeting of communication nodes or SAM sites. The F/A-18G could then either kill the site with its own weapons or provide the targeting information via the Military Information Data System (MIDS) to other elements of the strike package for destruction.
As a derivative of the F/A-18F, the -G's high degree of commonality (96% common with the F model) will reduce significantly the development cost and risk compared to a new-start system. Moreover, the additional quantities of G-model aircraft will accrue life-cycle benefits to the -E/F program. It will be far more cost-effective to pursue this approach as naval aviation evolves toward future warfighting concepts using a system-of-systems solution based upon UAVs or space assets. The F/A-18G is the logical next step in this revolution as it might naturally evolve into an airborne command-and-control platform integrated into the strike element, providing real-time tactical command-and-control of these off-board assets.
Efforts to understand the workload environment for the two-man crew have been ongoing. The crew-vehicle interface and the cockpit architecture have undergone a three-year study and simulation to assess the issues. Fleet air crews have favorably evaluated this two-man crew-vehicle interface, which incorporates automated, user-friendly displays and decision-aiding features.
Recognizing the importance of the mission and the outlook for the future, the Department of the Navy is evaluating potential alternatives for the future of Joint Tactical Airborne Command-and-Control/Electronic Warfare, The intent is to document a formal mission need, define operational requirements, and formulate an EA-6B ICAP III follow-on acquisition strategy. Three concurrent Chief of Naval Operations-sponsored studies have been initiated, all scheduled to be completed this winter. The long-term viability of Tactical Airborne C2W(EW) is approaching a crossroads; if a responsive organic capability is to be retained in our joint forces, some tough decisions must be made.
As the official custodian of the Joint Mission Tactical Electronic Warfare Program, the Department of the Navy must soon initiate an EA-6B follow-on acquisition strategy and gain joint support for that strategy. Battle space control is all about controlling the enemy and making him comply with our desires. Jamming, an important ingredient of defense suppression, is a key factor in that control.
Admiral Mixson , a naval aviator, is a former Deputy Assistant Chief of Naval Operations (Air Warfare). He commanded Carrier Group Two and the Red Sea Battle Force during Operation Desert Storm. General Corder , an Air Force fighter pilot and former Director of Air Force Electronic Combat, was the Deputy Commander for Air Operations for Central Command Air Forces during Operation Desert Storm.
The Antiair Warfare Bible Needs a Rewrite
By Lieutenant Commander John M. Pollin, U.S. Navy
It has been the Antiair Warfare bible for decades, but Naval Warfare Publication (NWP) 32 (Antiair Warfare) is entirely out of date.
Huge gains in technology, a number of well-researched, thoughtful tactical memoranda (TacMemos), and evolving methods of fighting in joint and combined environments argue compellingly for sweeping changes in the one publication that has served air defense planners so well in the past. Emerging issues should be the primary focus of effort. We should revise this document as follows:
Joint operations . Joint operations should be the true cornerstone of its philosophy. The January 1997 Proceedings carried an article advocating the use of battle-surveillance airships to provide a coherent sea and air picture and maximize situational awareness for battle group commanders. See "Time Is Running Out for Ship Low-Altitude Air Defense," Chuck Myers and Wyman Howard, page 8. Although they constitute an ingenious approach, airships would find themselves at high risk very quickly. The technology for the surveillance requirements voiced by Mr. Myers and Captain Howard exists today in other forms.
We must ask Air Force and Army personnel for their ideas. We must show our good faith by promulgating a doctrine that codifies how we will fight jointly and how joint surveillance will shorten our detect-to-engage time line. Obvious participants include Air Force tactical aviation and Airborne Warning and Control System (AWACS) personnel, but we also should solicit inputs from some nontraditional sources: psychological operations, communications and electronic intelligence (commint/elint), data-link participants (Air Force and Army), and representatives from the Air Force staff and personnel involved with revising their AFM 1 and AFM 1-1 (Aerospace Doctrine).
Air Force and Army data-link operations focus on a near-real time, more strategically focused air surveillance picture. Sister services' link procedures—quite different from the Navy's—typically provide senior watch standers with a theater-wide surveillance picture. The cost, however, is extra link time and a deliberate reporting center-to-reporting center data transfer, unacceptable for battle group requirements. Joint communications systems and circuits, which are used to support data link command-and-control operations when we operate with Army Patriot batteries or Army and Air Force land-based reporting centers, seem unwieldy and centralized to Navy link operators and antiair warfare tacticians. Comfortable with the traditional high-speed tempo of Navy-only link operations, we must learn what the joint-level measures of effectiveness are and draft a chapter devoted entirely to joint link operations.
Finally, the Navy should adopt standard voice communications procedures and phraseology from our sister services. We must be willing to translate Air Force and Army jargon and procedures into our language, then learn it.
Combined operations . We are operating increasingly with other nations that are very capable antiair warfare players. The Royal Navy can participate easily in Navy or joint air defense operations. The Japanese recently have demonstrated an impressive proficiency in combined at-sea antiair warfare exercises with Seventh Fleet units. Their Aegis destroyers, and their crews' ability to assimilate U.S. Navy antiair warfare procedures, gives them the potential to play a predominant role in combined air defense in the Japanese theater.
There are several complex issues. The publication must establish the criteria for conducting either integrated or federated combined air operations. Levels of integration and capacity for combined high-tempo, decentralized operations should be discussed in the publication. We may be able to employ allied forces in a federated sector or zone arrangement and let them perform autonomously; or we may integrate them into a sector (or integrate them fully—depending on force requirements), yet still retain a level of centralized control force-wide or in that particular sector. We certainly will array our combined surface and air assets to exploit allied strengths.
Obviously, as a new NWP 32 begins to incorporate combined command-and-control at the operational level, strategic-level planners will be forced to reevaluate previously held notions of maritime battle space management. This is to our advantage, however, as reliable firepower can be distributed equally throughout a multinational theater.
As with joint operations, the data-link architecture and operating procedures, as well as voice reporting procedures and phraseology, must be addressed in detail. Each country will view the data link differently. And clearly, though a naval air defense link must be high tempo to be tactically effective, our allies—like our sister services—will have strategic near-real-time interests in the data link. We must understand multinational measures of effectiveness for link operations, and seek in NWP 32 to establish standards that will be tactically and strategically acceptable to all participants. If we provide sample reports and an exhaustive definition of procedural words and phrases (much like the current appendix to NWP 32, but revised to reflect joint and combined influences) we should be able to overcome all but the most extreme language differences.
Air operations to complement expeditionary and amphibious warfare concepts . Battle group and amphibious ready group commanders are being urged by both professional schools and by our training fleets to dispense with the amphibious operating area (AOA) that previously defined, specific, three-dimensional, amphibious force battle space. If commanders agree to eliminate it, they also will eliminate a chapter's worth of proved, formalized, air-defense procedures and techniques. Losing the AOA may not be a bad thing, but it will cause air warfare planners to rethink the complex problem of defending amphibious or expeditionary forces.
Its absence would create several options. One would be to integrate the battle group AW assets with local amphibious AW assets, creating in one of the amphibious ships a local air warfare coordinator (AWC). This however, would not add firepower near the beach where it is most needed, nor would it guarantee the AWC an accurate, or real-time, air surveillance picture. We might conduct integrated battle group operations and send an Aegis cruiser or destroyer forward to conduct area AW defense of the amphibious forces while fulfilling sector air warfare coordinator duties within the larger battle group architecture. The Aegis ship, still under tactical control of the AWC, might be given a combat air patrol (CAP) defensive counter air (DCA) station to control for air-to-air combat, depending on the threat.
This approach is the present favorite (although the Aegis ship's air-defense sector looks remarkably like the out-of-favor AOA). It shows promise, if all other warfare commanders understand the somewhat unusual command-and-control associated with it and its inherent limitations.
Finally, federated operations with two separate Composite Warfare Command structures may be selected. In this case an Aegis ship may still be sent to the amphibious force and placed under its operational control. Navy or Air Force CAPs may occupy DCA stations over the amphibs, under control of the Aegis ship or an airborne AEW and weapons direction system, such as an E-2C Hawkeye or AWACS. The CAP may push to overland DCA stations to protect expeditionary forces as they move inland.
All of these tactics have been employed recently with varying degrees of success. Yet the differences among them are subtle, and in fact may be transparent to only the most sophisticated AW tacticians. At sea, the differences and complexities will be driven home quickly to senior commanders by confused command-and-control and the frightening potential for missed intercepts. Unless we understand fully how to defend amphibious and expeditionary forces from an air threat, we risk disaster. No matter how innovative or visionary it might seem to delete the traditional AOAs, we should understand and publish the way battle group assets will complement the movement of ground forces ashore.
Working with U.S. Marines, Navy planners also must update methods to shift air-defense command-and-control ashore once the Marines are prepared to assume responsibility. Although this may sound simple, it is a challenging procedure; if done incorrectly, it can result in complete loss of air cover for our ground forces. Since Chapter 7 addresses tactics in the context of an AOA, many factors must be reviewed. Proposals based on exercise lessons and the vision of fleet commanders are a starting point.
Theater ballistic missile defense (TBMD). The rapidly emerging role of the Navy, specifically the Aegis combat system, in theater ballistic missile defense may change the way we fight—or are able to fight—and yet NWP 32 does not address the subject. Granted, the publication focuses on the tactical and operational levels of war, but we must not disconnect fleet air warfare concepts entirely from ballistic missile defense—or vice versa.
On the other hand, tactical defense against today's high-speed, low-altitude cruise missile threat should not be subverted in favor of a strategic air-defense posture constantly being refined in view of changing geopolitics. Understanding the way the two missions either support or detract from each other will be crucial. Today, and for the near term, one inescapable fact holds true: Any use of fleet air defense assets to bolster strategic-level TBMD necessarily will weaken fleet air defenses.
Given our obligation to continue as a leading force in TBMD, NWP 32 as a minimum must help battle group planners array forces and guarantee adequate command-and-control architecture to support both missions if called upon to do so. Items which should be incorporated into the publication include:
- Role of the area air defense commander and AWC in TBMD planning and execution
- Optimum Aegis positioning for separate fleet air defense and TBMD missions
- Optimum AN/SPY-1 radar configuration for several distinct threat classes (ballistic missiles, cruise missiles, and manned aircraft/electronic attack)
- Sector or zone coordination methods for TBMD
- Joint or combined arms TBMD coordination
- Data-link interchange requirements and voice reporting procedures and procedural words
- Planned response options
Medium-range air warfare . In 1993, the fleet received an excellent tactical memorandum on medium-range air warfare. Given that the classic outer-air battle was going to be fought in the littorals, it established that the air-to-surface threat would come from 360°, with no truly definable threat axes, and that the dominant threat to shipping might be an air-delivered Exocet. It correctly asserted that battle space will be compressed, CAPs will be stationed at shorter ranges, and surface-to-air missile (SAM) shooters and fighters on CAP may share a joint three-dimensional engagement zone. In the years since its publication, various battle groups have used these tactics and generated numerous lessons learned.
Obviously, there is no perfect way to array DCA stations, carve airspace so that CAP-SAM coordination is flawless, or commit a CAP to inbound targets, but the memorandum is a good start. Interestingly, the best discussion of individual CAP tactics (sections and divisions) remains NWP 55-2-F14, which addresses Tomcat operations. NWP 32 revisers must conjoin concepts derived from the TacMemo, follow-on lessons learned, and doctrinal guidance from the F-14 and F/A-18 communities to ensure that our medium-range air warfare tactics are optimal. It would be foolish to create tactical guidance on the subject without cooperation and agreement from experts in the TacAir and Aegis communities.
One closing thought on air defense: The Navy never has solved the problem of simultaneously executing a deceptive counter-targeting plan involving airborne aircraft for a firepower kill. Various tactics make their way into fleet exercises only to disappear beyond the radar horizon shortly after exercise completion. It would be satisfying to see tactical guidance on counter-targeting incorporated in this section of the book. More important, we may find that elaborate counter-targeting plans won't work, given their huge demand on air wing assets and the compression of time and airspace. If that proves true, we should stop misusing the airspace and aircraft, and draft realistic tactics with what forces will actually be available, creating as solid a marriage of firepower and deception as possible.
In updating NWP 32, the Navy should abandon its parochialism and draw from a wide group of resources—including existing Navy and sister service lessons-learned data bases, and interviews with battle group air-defense personnel, key allied air-defense tacticians and staff planners, and technical experts from the civilian community. We should muster joint and combined air-warfare working groups, to create single-source authoritative doctrine that will meet the challenges of joint and combined-arms scrutiny.
Lieutenant Commander Pollin , a surface warfare officer, is the Executive Officer of the USS Deyo (DD-989).
Bioremediation Works for Coast Guard
By Ed Kander
The Coast Guard has taken another step toward environmental conservation by using the latest technology to clean up contaminated soil. The process, called bioremediation, is being used at Coast Guard units throughout Alaska to clean up fuel leaks and spills that have occurred over the years—particularly important in this fragile environment.
Lieutenant Jerry Woloszynski, environmental engineer at the Coast Guard's Civil Engineering Unit Juneau, described the process as a natural way to degrade fuel contaminants by injecting air into the soil. The oxygen in the air creates an environment conducive to the growth of microbes, which consume the contaminants in the soil and break them down into harmless compounds. Again, this is a first-rate method for this environment.
"Bioremediation has gained more regulatory acceptance in recent years," Woloszynski said. "The process is cost effective and less disturbing to the overall environment." He is tasked with establishing bioremediation systems at Coast Guard stations contaminated by fuel products that have spilled or leaked from tanks over the years—mainly gasoline, diesel, fuel oils, and other petroleum products.
The primarily concern is with contaminants that might affect underground drinking water supplies or waterways such as streams or rivers. "We want to stop contamination below the ground from entering a waterway or a drinking water well," said Woloszynski. "Shallow water tables in Alaska create a problem in that the water becomes a transport mechanism for the contaminants. Contaminants can quickly reach the water table and spread after they are released into the environment."
The bioremediation process begins with a site investigation to determine the type and quantity of contaminants and the extent to which they have spread from the initial point of release. A series of monitoring wells are drilled within the site. The number of wells required and their depths depend upon the type of contamination, the size of the spill, the depth to ground water, soil conditions and topography in the area; each well is two to four inches in diameter. Soil samples are taken from the wells to determine the presence of any contaminants in the ground.
The casings left by the monitoring wells are used to inject oxygen into the soil, which enables naturally occurring microbes to consume the contaminants: thus, bioremediation.
Woloszynski also takes measurements to make sure the contaminants are not spreading while the bioremediation process is in progress. "We ring a site with wells outside the contaminated area to make sure the contaminants are not spreading outward." The bioremediation process is a long one, but it is the most cost effective. since cost to install, run and monitor a system is minimal compared to other clean-up methods.
Bioremediation was used to combat a fuel spill in Cordova when a fuel tank overflowed, spilling 100 gallons of JP-5 jet fuel. Civil Engineering Unit Juneau responded to the spill and, with assistance from the unit and local contractors, had a bioremediation cell installed and operating within hours of the release.
"Cordova was unique in that it was the Coast Guard's first opportunity to respond to a spill and get a bioremediation system up and running in the same set of motions," Woloszynski said. "In this case we had the tools. We had the solutions and the capability of getting in there before the fuel spread out and reached a larger area and a nearby stream." The total cost for assessing the spill and installing the bioremediation unit was $6,198. It will take around three years and an additional $4,000 to bioremediate the contaminated soil.
An alternative would have been to use a portable rotary kiln designed by Civil Engineering Unit Juneau. The heat generated by the kiln, as high as 1,500 Fahrenheit, literally vaporizes any contaminants in the soils passed through the unit The clean-up would have taken only three weeks using this method, but the cost would have been $30,000. Until bioremediation came along, the kiln was the preferred, and often only, method to clean up a site.
"Bioremediation is cleaning the soil the same way nature would do it, but we are just enhancing the process," Woloszynski said.
Civil Engineering Unit Juneau has bioremediation systems installed at other Coast Guard units including Air Station Sitka, Support Center Kodiak, Potato Point in Valdez, Communication Station Kodiak and Loran Station Port Clarence—the largest Coast Guard bioremediation project in Alaska.
A series of about 15 wells will clean up the extensive contamination at Port Clarence, using a combination of bioremediation and soil-vapor extraction processes, which remove contaminants in the soil that are in a vapor form.
Because Port Clarence is so far north, cleanup will feature some unique problems. "We have approximately 10,000 gallons of diesel fuel sitting on top of permafrost which lies under all the Loran station structures. We have to ensure that we do not thaw the permafrost because it is actually part of the foundation support systems for the buildings."
With Port Clarence and other sites up and running, Woloszynski has several other units that will require bioremediation, such as the Loran stations Tok and St. Paul. Woloszynski believes progress is being made as far as clean ups are concerned—"We are slowly working on getting over the hump." He hopes to have bioremediation cells up and running in the next three years at all Coast Guard units contaminated by fuel spills.
Spills will occur, but instead of letting them sit—or waiting years to do anything about them—the Coast Guard can put the new environmentally safe and cost-effective bioremediation technology to work almost immediately.
Mr. Kander wrote this while on active duty with the Coast Guard in Alaska.
EA-6B Upgrade Tested at Point Mugu
By Lieutenant Brad Botkin, U.S. Navy
In a first at Point Mugu, an EA-6B block upgrade—Block 89A—is undergoing systems integration ground and limited flight testing at the Naval Air Warfare Center Weapons Division in California. The aircraft, containing a communication and navigation system upgrade designed by the center's EA-6B Integrated Program Team, arrived at Point Mugu in late September.
The center's EA-6B integrated process team began systems design and integration efforts more than two years ago, after the aircraft's previous systems integrator was unable to make a competitive bid. The 89A upgrade adds a Litton Embedded Global Positioning System (GPS)-Inertial Navigation System (INS) [EGI], and replaces several items with newer common avionics. These include a Control Display Navigation Unit, a larger memory and higher processing capacity VPM AYK-14, a Digital Signal Data Converter, and ARC-210 radios.
The test aircraft, the first of four verification and validation platforms, was wired at Northrop-Grumman's Saint Augustine, Florida, facility and then transferred to the Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division in Patuxent River, Maryland, in June for inspection and initial safety of flight testing before heading for Pt. Mugu.
"This period has allowed us to verify and validate both our system design and software, just as a civilian prime contractor would, prior to turning the plane over to developmental test," said Mark Schallheim, the team leader.
Developmental test personnel from Patuxent River and operational test personnel from VX-9 at Naval Weapons Center China Lake monitor and participate in testing. Team contractor support by COMPTEK, Pacer Infotek, and VEDA, Inc., also has been instrumental to the program's success.
The EA-6B team at Pt. Mugu long has been the primary field activity for EA-6B systems support. Fourteen years ago, the center was designated the EA-6B Weapon System Support Activity (WSSA) and Software Support Activity (SSA). It has designed, managed, and fielded smaller system integration projects for the EA-6B, including a low-cost receiver frequency expansion kit. The Block 89A aircraft upgrade, however, marks the first time that the center has served as the prime systems integrator for a Prowler upgrade.
Lieutenant Botkin is the EA-6B project officer at Pt. Mugu.
SLAM Going Strong
By Vance Vasquez
Pilots and maintenance personnel from six F/A-18 squadrons participated in a Standoff Land Attack Missile (SLAM) exercise at Pt. Mugu last August. VFA-82 and -86 from Carrier Air Wing One (CVW-1) and VFA-131 and -136 (CVW-7)—all based at NAS Cecil Field, Florida—plus VFA-27 and -195 from CVW-5 at NAF Atsugi, Japan, launched a total of seven ATM-84E missiles at targets on San Nicolas Island during the exercise. Crews also got classroom training on the Tactical Automated Mission Planning System (TAMPS).
Mr. Vasquez writes for Naval Air Warfare Center, Pt. Mugu, Public Affairs.