Tuesday, September 21, 2010

From the Airforce: The Fight Against Windmills is On...

Just then they came in sight of thirty or forty windmills that rise from that plain. And no sooner did Don Quixote see them that he said to his squire, "Fortune is guiding our affairs better than we ourselves could have wished. Do you see over yonder, friend Sancho, thirty or forty hulking giants? I intend to do battle with them and slay them. With their spoils we shall begin to be rich for this is a righteous war and the removal of so foul a brood from off the face of the earth is a service God will bless."    Miguel de Cervantes

Apparently large windmills interfere with the radar capacities of the American airforce. Some say the airplanes simply disappear from the radar screens when flying over windfarms.  Aside from the interference of the rotating blades,  what might interfere with the radar systems are possibly the large specialty magnets inside the motors of the Turbines ( my thought -- experts tell me they are most likely not)

The NYT reports that windfarms look a lot like storm activity on weather radar.  Thousands of existing turbines in the gusty Tehachapi Mountains, to the west of the R-2508 military complex in the Mojave Desert, have already limited its abilities to test airborne radar used for target detection in F/A-18s and other aircraft. It is the reason why the airforce has opposed the building of windfarms.

So a conflict of interests has been shaping up between energy security and national security. In many cases the Airforce has stopped or stalled windfarm projects. In the Columbia River Gorge on the Oregon-Washington border and in the Great Lakes region. But the conflicts now appear to be most frequent in the Mojave, where the Air Force, Navy and Army control 20,000 square miles of airspace and associated land in California and Nevada that they use for bomb tests; low-altitude, high-speed air maneuvers; and radar testing and development.
california testing and training area
It may also play a role in the slow-down of  large wind projects in New Mexico which is now chosen to be a low flying military aircraft testing ground. This is what the airforce has in mind for New Mexico:

proposed LATN area: Low Altitude Tactical Navigation
To meet SOF mobility training requirements, the Air Force is proposing that various types of C-130 and CV-22 Osprey aircrews, flying as low as 200 feet above-ground-level (AGL) with speeds below 250 knots indicated airspeed, train in the proposed LATN area.  The proposed LATN area is necessary because the existing Military Training Routes (MTRs) controlled by 27 SOW at Cannon AFB are generally narrow corridors over flat terrain designed for use by F-16 aircraft previously flown from Cannon AFB.  These MTRs do not provide the access to aircrew training opportunities over high mountainous terrain need to represent current real world taskings.  .......  These aircrews would hone unique skills by flying:   
  1.  At night 
  2.  In high altitude mountains 
  3.  With vertical terrain separated from large human populations.  
  4. This SOF mobility capability is a unique, national asset and profi ciency at 
  5. these skills are required for successful operations in ongoing global conflicts. 
  6. The northern New Mexico and southern Colorado area proposed for the 
  7. SOF training meets these terrain requirements.  This environment is very 
  8. challenging for crews to keep the aircraft on the proper time schedule and 
  9. course while avoiding simulated threats. 

There are also suggestions that testing of new generations of drones will be involved in this area. Though I am not independently able to verify these claims, it deserves a hard look by in-depth journalism. What is the full vision of DOE and DOD for New Mexico? Is it just nuclear weapons or does it involve so much more that the populous is not even remotely aware of ?

Let's get back to the question of energy security. After examining the AF requirements for the LATN area -- guess what ? Most likely no windmills in New Mexico.

Here I want to recognize that in the Airforce's rejection of windfarms is also an unspoken preference for nuclear power. The future of  Richardson's vision of New Mexico as the Saudi Arabia of the US with windmills and solar panels in the desert, generating energy that is distributed over the whole of the US, now looks instead like a Nuclear wasteland with nuclear waste, nuclear bomb facilities, enrichment,  nuclear power plants and low flying aircraft overhead..... This is sadly part of the continued story of New Mexico as a militarized colony: a true national sacrifice state, with a small marginalized population and little political power or 'voice'.

...Whether or not the AF is successful in halting the most reasonable solution for energy production in NM, wind turbines (and solar),  the added effect of interfering with airforce radar, should give pause to most other countries in the world.... Here is a thought: Re-allocate defence money towards the creation of large wind farms. 
It is a beautiful thing when people realize that energy security and national security in fact can go hand in hand. 

Go ahead, adjust your radar.....build windfarms as fast as you can.....!

1 comment:

  1. Hmmmmmmmmmm...

    Could the large windmills also pose problems to "unmanned aerial vehicles"?

    I'm thinking it is also a DRONE deal.