Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Is NORAD Capable of Managing Unknown Targets?

Could The Mismanagement of Unknown Targets Trigger A Nuclear War?

 “Most people don't think that there is evidence because they haven't looked for it. There's such a little green men mindset in this culture. It's hard to work your way through that.” - Leslie Kean

 Dropped Balls and Close Calls
 One way to hide a hole in a bucket is to make it impossible to measure the amount of leakage that is occurring. Is the phenomenon of unknown aerial targets a wild card that could lead to a series of catastrophic events, by misinformation, poor communication or other human errors?  Recently I was reading correspondence regarding the issues surrounding air defense systems in Canada and the U.S One sentence triggered this post: "Some examples of recent and ongoing activities by NORAD are: provision of fighter aircraft, with the necessary support, to intercept unidentified ‘targets’ entering sovereign airspace."
How can a unknown target that remains unidentified be defined as not posing a potential threat to national security? Not directly, but as a wild card.
 A General Accounting Office report published in May 1994 states that “during the past four years, NORAD’s alert fighters took off to intercept aircraft (referred to as scrambled) 1,518 times, or an average of 15 times per site per year.” Of these incidents, the number of scrambles that are in response to suspected drug smuggling aircraft averages “one per site, or less than 7 percent of all of the alert sites’ total activity.” The remaining activity, about 93 percent of the total scrambles, “generally involved visually inspecting unidentified aircraft and assisting aircraft in distress.[General Accounting Office, 5/3/1994, pp. 4]
Could an incursion by unknown targets slip through this net? If so, could they be buried by benign indifference, or bureaucratic double speak?
How many of these 1,518 scrambles resulted in craft remaining unidentified?
One recalls the failures of 9/11. The GAO stated in 2007 that the FAA, NORAD and the Transportation Security Administration have taken action to “address the communications and coordination problems that were highlighted by 9/11.” But the effectiveness of that response remains an open question. In October 2006, Aerospace Daily & Defense Report reported that an Air Force plan to “better marry military and civilian radar networks” and respond to a 9/11-style attack was running nearly two years behind schedule and costing more than three times the initial budget. A NORAD spokesman told the Center a variety of improvements have been implemented to boost responsiveness “to a 9/11-style attack or other kinds of asymmetric aerial attacks on the U.S.”  Two years in arrears is the bottom line.

Meanwhile, in space..defense remains an open question.,,hence this memo..
"Many space systems have been developed on stand-alone/stove-pipe systems for Space Situation Awareness (SSA) and used by and for a variety of missions. This interest area focuses on development and integration of a single integrated tool/display, in order to ensure that each operations center and commander has the necessary situation awareness available to make decisions based on the entire space picture. Employment of this capability on a Common Operating Environment (COE) platform and integrated with a visualization tool needs to be successfully integrated and demonstrated.
Respondees should provide innovative ideas/concepts that leverage both our National systems capabilities and leading-edge technologies, to provide a significant enhancement to the current capability. If proposing in this area, Respondees should describe how and to what extent their concept addresses one or more of the following issues:
 How do we integrate Hotwalker, Jaywalker, Fastwalker, Skywalker worldwide test range monitoring, and space infrastructure attack characterization capabilities?""
The question may be addressed more to an unknown nature of a target and a virtually enormous bureaucracy, prone to error from time to time with fatal potential consequences , especially if they remain unknown and yet are dismissed as a non threat when the question remains up in the air as to their nature? This defy s common sense.
 The lesson that triggered U.S involvement in WW2 was compounded by the fact that radar sensing capability was in fact present at Pearl Harbor, in use (albeit experimentally) at the time of the inbound attack, did acquire the attacking aircraft, but failed to identify the attackers correctly, failed to relay effective warning to the local command authorities, and failed to remain in operation to maintain contact with the incoming aircraft.
 Moving forward in time, unknown targets do appear..

The Belgium Air Force, NATO division, found itself chasing something that was totally beyond the curve of our own technology. The incident was observed by gendarmes on the ground below. The facts of that incident concerned them enough to bring it to the public's attention. Together, both they and the gendarmerie made a video in cooperation with the USA television show "Unsolved Mysteries." It included gun-camera footage from the incident, testimony by Colonel W. J. L. De Brouwer, Chief of Operations of the Belgium Air Force.
Then there is the Mexican incursion as evidenced again by gun cameras.

The missing volume of water from a hole in the bucket has many examples.On February 20, 1972 instead of the regularly scheduled test message to radio networks to insure the viability of the national emergency broadcast system, the wrong message was sent. Instead of this message a coded alert was sent for all networks to cease broadcasting, which they did.  It told them that the president of the U.S was about to address the nation. Of course, the error was corrected. There are many examples of "mixed signals" causing a near head on collision with self incineration.

1962 Oct.28: Moorestown false alarm.
Just before 9 a.m. on 28 October the Moorestown, New Jersey, radar operators informed the national command post that a nuclear attack was under way. A test tape simulating a missile launch from Cuba was being run, and simultaneously a satellite came over the horizon. Operators became confused and reported by voice line to NORAD HQ that impact was expected 18 miles west of Tampa at 9:02 a.m. The whole of NORAD was alerted, but before irrevocable action had been taken it was reported that no detonation had taken place at the predicted time, and Moorestown operators reported the reason for the false alarm.
During the incident overlapping radars that should have been available to confirm or disagree, were not in operation. The radar post had not received routine information of satellite passage because the facility carrying out that task had been given other work for the duration of the crisis.
1962, Oct.28: False warning due to satellite sighting.
At 5:26 p.m. on 28 October, the Laredo radar warning site had just become operational. Operators misidentified a satellite in orbit as two possible missiles over Georgia and reported by voice line to NORAD HQ. NORAD was unable to identify that the warning came from the new station at Laredo and believed it to be from Moorestown, and therefore more reliable. Moorestown failed to intervene and contradict the false warning. By the time the CINC, NORAD had been informed, no impact had been reported and the warning was "given low credence."
1962, Nov.2: The Penkovsky False Warning.
In the fall of 1962, Colonel Oleg Penkovsky was working in Russia as a double agent for the CIA He had been given a code by which to warn the CIA if he was convinced that a Soviet attack on the United States was imminent. He was to call twice, one minute apart, and only blow into the receiver. Further information was then to be left at a "dead drop" in Moscow.The pre-arranged code message was received by the CIA on 2 November 1962. It was not known at the CIA that Penkovsky had been arrested on 22 October. Penkovsky knew he was going to be executed. It is not known whether he had told the KGB the meaning of the code signal or only how it would be given, nor is it known exactly why or with what authorization the KGB staff used it. When another CIA agent checked the dead drop he was arrested.

 The most striking example of how quickly the nuclear ball can be set into motion took place on January 25, 1995, when Russian early warning radars detected a missile rising from the Norwegian Sea. Russian President Boris Yeltsin was alerted. He was brought his nuclear-command briefcase and placed in contact with his defense minister. For several tense minutes, Yeltsin and his subordinates waited to see if Russia was coming under a submarine-based nuclear attack -- and if they needed to retaliate.  As it turned out, the missile detected by Russian radar was a Norwegian research rocket, launched on a mission to examine the aurora borealis, or Northern Lights.
An investigation into the matter revealed that Norway had indeed informed Russia about the rocket several weeks before the launch -- but, due to bureaucratic mismanagement, the announcement never reached officials involved with Moscow's early warning systems.
One of the more publicized U.S. false alarms took place in November 1979. A technician at NORAD -- the North American Air Defense Command -- accidentally placed a training tape into the main systems at NORAD's Cheyenne Mountain Complex in Colorado. That mistake made NORAD's early warning system computer think the United States was undergoing a massive Soviet missile attack -- and it responded by alerting NORAD officials.
Within minutes, they realized the error. The incident was one of five missile warning system failures that took place over an eight-month period between 1979 and 1980. It also prompted a government reassessment of NORAD and its operations.

Have you heard of these incidents that when compounded could have meant the end of our species? Is this an example of a certain amount of leakage through the bucket? What of  defense security in space?

The way to identify an individual satellite  is to measure the received frequency of the data burst and compare it to the expected Doppler shifted value at that moment. Not every active satellite dumps messages on every pass and often there are several satellites above the horizon simultaneously. Simple logging of event times is not sufficient to identify the transmitter. NORAD has misidentified the payloads on one of the multiple-satellite launches involving both Gonets-D1 and Strela-3 payloads. It has interchanged Cosmos 2386 (a Strela-3) and Gonets D1-8, to the significant confusion of some observers.Operators again misidentified a satellite in orbit as two possible missiles over Georgia and reported by voice line to NORAD HQ.
 Recall the misidentified aircraft that caused panic among Capitol Hill employees, and two F-15s were scrambled.

June , 1980: Faulty Computer Chip
The Warning displays at the Command Centers mentioned in the last episode included windows that normally showed
0000 ICBMs detected 0000 SLBMs detected
At 2:25 a.m. on June 3, 1980, these displays started showing various numbers of missiles detected, represented by 2's in place of one or more 0's. Preparations for retaliation were instituted, including nuclear bomber crews staring their engines, launch of Pacific Command's Airborne Command Post, and readying of Minutemen missiles for launch. It was not difficult to assess that this was a false alarm because the numbers displayed were not rational.
While the cause of that false alarm was still being investigated 3 days later, the same thing happened and again preparations were made for retaliation. The cause was a single faulty chip that was failing in a random fashion. The basic design of the system was faulty, allowing this single failure to cause a deceptive display at several command posts.
The following incident is added to illustrate that even now, when the Cold War has been over for 8 years errors can still cause concern. This particular one could have hardly brought nuclear retaliation.; but there are still 30,000 nuclear weapons deployed, and two nuclear weapon states could get into a hostile adversarial status again.

 Is NORAD capable of handling unknown targets? The official explanation for one gun camera recording was a 'fault" in the system while others tend to suspect the craft was following unknown targets. Either way, does this instill confidence in the reliability of defense? Think of a supersonic fighter jet chasing a flaw in it's own gun camera. In fact, several of them. Either way..chasing plasma, chasing their own systems, chasing an unidentified target?

Is there a hole in the bucket?


Tim Printy said...

The "missile launch" was debunked long ago and it WAS an airplane contrail.

I understand your point but you need to look a little farther than what you did on this example.

Bruce Duensing said...

It was a poor example and I removed it as I had not made clear what the point of using it was, which is minutes, sometimes seconds count and one would think a domestic flight was at the top of their list of suspects for the contrail. Even the FAA seemed to be clueless which is disconcerting.
I agree with you it was more than likely a domestic flight, however if I had used the example more cogently, I could saved you some time. I always welcome feedback.

Observer said...

The lights shown on the video of the Mexican "UFOs" were subsequently identified as ocean oil rig flares, I believe. The illusion of the aircraft, at speed, with its FLIR camera pointed down and at a side angle, with the clouds seeming moving, was an optical illusion that appeared to show the light sources moving through them, when they were actually fixed.


Examine the evidence and judge for yourself. I think the data clearly indicates oil well flares on ocean rigs, and I'm neither a pseudo-skeptic nor debunker, having had two close UFO encounters myself.

But, OTOH, I do think your summary of the potential dangers of UAP or UFO, whatever one cares to call them, are a very real potential danger that could possibly trigger a false warning of incoming missiles, and hopefully NORAD, NRO, and related space and ground based surveillance systems have by now been upgraded to discriminate the nuclear wheat from the chaff.

I worry more about foreign nuclear states "launch on warning" detection systems, such as the Soviet, Chinese, and particularly Indian and Pakistani nuclear forces than any other nuclear missile states, frankly.

Bruce Duensing said...

This is a good example of mis-identification which was only resolved after a significant amount of time had passed if you are correct. This was the point of the post. As I said, it is a wild card scenario. I think it is reasonable to suggest it could happen. Even a slim chance is worrisome and of course we have to keep in mind NORAD will never say one way or the other because this phenomenon does not officially exist.