Howard Greninger / The Tribune-Star & Michael Evans / The Times – 2007-05-10 23:01:42
Terre Haute Base for New Military Exercises
Howard Greninger / The Tribune-Star
TERRE HAUTE (May 7, 2007) — An eight-day military training exercise in which the state coordinates with local emergency response officials will begin Thursday and use Terre Haute International Airport-Hulman Field as a forward operating base.
That means the airport will initially harbor about 1,500 personnel out of an estimated 3,000 people who will participate in one of the nation’s largest training exercises for a simulated nuclear explosion. In this simulation, a 10-kiloton nuclear device explodes in Indianapolis.
The training exercise is called “Vigilant Guard,” one part of a nationwide exercise called Ardent Sentry that will test the national response plan, said Lt. Col. John R. Newman of the 181st Fighter Wing.
The airport will be the first destination for about 2.6 million pounds of cargo, Newman said.
“That is the equivalent of 32 C-17 [military cargo airplane] missions, but that could include some C-130 or even a C-5 aircraft. This is a big deal and we are glad they are picking us to make the nation safer. While we are at the crossroads of America, we are also literally the crossroads for air space as well,” Newman said.
Once personnel and cargo are assembled, then a convoy will travel from the airport down Chamberlain Road to Indiana 42, then west to Indiana 46 and then to Interstate 70. The convoy will then go to Interstate 65 to Camp Atterbury Joint Maneuver Training Center near Edinburgh and Muscatatuck Urban Training Center, near North Vernon.
“That means an increase in traffic and air activity. At Hulman Field, one of our key points is safety. People should not be alarmed, as it is a training exercise,” Newman said. “Don’t be alarmed if you see a lot of aircraft at the airport and increased traffic.”
The Terre Haute Police Department, Vigo County Sheriff’s Department and Indiana State Police will help move the convoy from the airport. State police will help coordinate the convoy statewide.
About 150 people from Task Force 7, a regional response team of local and state emergency response agencies in Vigo, Vermillion, Clay, Sullivan, Parke, Owen, Greene and Putnam counties, will participate in the drill, said Aimee Einfeld, spokeswoman for the task force and the health educator/media coordinator for the Vigo County Health Department.
“The role of Task Force 7 includes fire, law enforcement, state and local health officials, emergency response, hazardous materials, mental health and communications. The task force has already been involved in the planning” of the exercise, Einfeld said.
Dr. Dorene Hojnicki, director of the Vigo County Emergency Management Agency, said the task force itself would have medical needs of its own if the nuclear explosion were real.
“If you have an area that has already been hit, just like tornadoes that recently hit Kansas, there is no hospital or anything,” Hojnicki said. “We will bring medical support for our members so if they have minor medical needs, we can care for them onsite and not add to the burden of the people we are trying to assist,” she said.
“There is also a logistical mission of what do we need and how do we handle things. We are also testing to see if our emergency operations center can operate” at the airport, she said.
Hojnicki said she asked the Indiana Department of Transportation to place flashing signs on the eastbound lanes of the interstate to show there is a convoy, and to move to one lane.
“This is Indiana in May, so we know we have race day and qualifications, so I-70 and U.S. 40 will be busy. We just want people to be aware of the increased traffic. This is a good test of the system.”
Airport Director Dennis Dunbar said the airport will not close to general aviation traffic. Terre Haute’s airport is the largest airport closest to Indianapolis capable of handling large, fully loaded military aircraft. The airport will close Runway 14 to park some aircraft, he said.
“In addition, we expect to see an increase in helicopter traffic, likely Blackhawk helicopters as well as VIP transport, similar to Lear jets or others,” he said.
Terre Haute Mayor Kevin Burke said the exercise can show that Terre Haute is an excellent location for similar operations. “If we do this well and it is beneficial and really benefits the participants to be better prepared for such an event, then our chances of doing this on a regular basis increase,” the mayor said.
“This is what we have talked about for the new missions for the 181st and [Terre Haute] being able to do things at the national level right here in the Wabash Valley,” the mayor said.
Howard Greninger can be reached at (812) 231-4204 or firstname.lastname@example.org
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Russian ‘Spy’ Planes Put RAF on Cold War Alert
Michael Evans, Defence Editor / The Times
LONDON (May 10, 2007) — The Cold War has made a surprise return in the form of two Russian Bear bombers. The aircraft flew towards British airspace during an exercise off Scotland to snoop on Royal Navy warships.
RAF sources said yesterday that it was such a rare occurrence that two Tornado F3 air defence aircraft were scrambled to see the aircraft off.
During the Cold War, Soviet Bear and Bison bombers regularly flew close to British airspace to test out Britain’s defence systems. RAF aircraft had to scramble every week to force the pilots to turn away.
However, the habit had largely died out since the collapse of the Soviet Union and the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989.
The two Bears were spotted on radar heading towards the Outer Hebrides during Exercise Neptune Warrior, which took place between April 22 and May 3.
The exercise involved multinational warships, submarines and aircraft and included live firing.
The Two Tornado F3s, on short-notice quick-reaction alert status at RAF Leuchars, in Fife, flew alongside the bombers until they turned away. The aircraft had flown from their base in Murmansk on the Kola Peninsula in the far north of Russia.
Squadron Leader Keith Wardlaw, a spokesman for the RAF, could not remember the last time such an encounter had taken place.
“The Russians obviously thought it might be worth coming through to have a look at what we were up to and probably take some photos,” Squadron Leader Wardlaw said.
He added: “It’s a throwback to the Cold War when they used to fly in regularly to poke and prod at the edges of British airspace and test our reaction times.”
He said that it was normal to let such aircraft “know we’re there by pulling up alongside them, and they left quietly”. The incident lasted about 20 minutes.
Paul Jackson, Editor of Jane’s All the World’s Aircraft, said that, although old, the aircraft were still effective.
“This aircraft dates back to the 1950s and although the air-frame might look dated it is still highly effective in terms of long-range maritime reconnaissance,” he said.
“They used to fly over the North Sea and the Greenland Gap daily during the Cold War, and while it’s rare today, it’s by no means a unique occurrence. It’s nice to know the Russians are out and about again.”
Mr Jackson said that the scrambling of the Tornadoes was nothing out of the ordinary. “The exercise was in international waters and the Russians have got just as much right to be there as we have. We do it to them, they do it to us. All the RAF are doing is telling them, ‘We could do this for real if we wanted to, so go and tell your mates back home’.”
From July, the Tornado role is to be taken over by the new Eurofighter/Typhoon. However, the arrival of Russian Bears is unlikely to be their most burdensome task.
These days, RAF personnel on scrambling duty spend most of their time on counter-terrorist missions, checking out commercial airliners approaching Britain in ways that arouse suspicion, either because they have taken the wrong flight path or because the pilot has not contacted ground control.
Bear F bomber
— Designed to detect and destroy submarines
— Crew of seven Ten-tonne bomb payload
— 161ft-long, with turbo-prop engine and eight propellers
— 4,000-mile flight range
— First version built in 1950s