The EF-18G Growler electronic attack aircraft is primarily known for its mission of jamming enemy air defense radars, and suppressing them with the AGM-88 High Speed Anti-Radiation Missile.
The Navy hasn’t been spending a lot of time in well defensed airspace lately, though. What it has been doing is exploiting or denying virtually all of the radio frequency electromagnetic spectrum in the fight in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Syria.
In order to accomplish its mission in these places, of course the crews must train realistically before deploying. Since the Growlers are stationed at NAS Whidbey Island, WA, most of the training will take place there. It’s not so much that you can’t move the planes. It’s that the need for coordination with the crews and the trainers requires that the training be done in close enough proximity that both elements can communicate face to face regularly.
There has long been a limited EW training site at NAS Whidbey, mostly to practice jamming air defenses. But in order to better train for the far more complex electromagnetic environment of today, the Navy has proposed an EW training range consisting of a series of emitters scattered around the region, including on the beautiful Olympic Peninsula.
Of course, the Navy can’t do anything without an Environmental Assessment. And of course, that has to be open to public comment. Which is fine.
Of course, there is more than a small number of people who proudly claim the title of environmentalist in the area, and view any use of the lands in question as inherently evil, unless it consists of them driving their Subaru to the trailhead.
Hiking is very popular in that part of Washington. And so are hiking blogs.
The rugged, beautiful Washington Coast and the rainforests of the Olympic Peninsula will soon be the site of War Games conducted by the United States Military. In 2015, the United States plans to test and refine our ability to use and maintain electromagnetic weapons in our National Forest lands. Pumping radiation out of towers at 14 locations, including stations on the Quinault, Queets, Hoh rivers and rain forests, the US military is saying that there is little to no risk to humans or large animals in the region.
Of course, we’re not dealing with an expert here.
While I am neither an environmental or military expert, testing any level of radiation in or around National Wildlife Refuges and National Parks seems like a terrible idea. Maybe it was one too many episodes of the X-Files, but I don’t necessarily trust everything that is spoon fed to us via regular news sources. Luckily, I am not alone.
I don’t trust everything spoon fed to me by regular news sources either. But I do trust physics, even as little as I understand them.
According to the reports linked above, 15 minutes of exposure from the radiation can severely damage the eyes and other sensitive skin. If this level of radiation can cause harm to people over 15 minutes, what exactly will it be doing to the birds and large mammals in the region? What is it going to do to the millions of pounds of slugs, spiders, bees and other small creatures?
I suppose if you stood right in front of a parabolic antenna long enough, yes, just like a microwave it would begin to cook you. But standing in front of the dishes would be difficult, as they’re going to be aimed upward. You’d have a challenge just getting into the path of the beam.
Of course, simply saying “radiation” freaks out all the environmental types.
Elizabeth Keating says:
This is absolutely horrible. With all our concerns about environment, and all the woods that are already logged around this park everyday! How dare the military think they can abuse our beautiful park this way. It’s an abomination.
Sara Luna says:
“”“Set up in this direction, the mobile emitters pose no threat to people or animals below the emitters on the ground. Risk to animals or humans would only occur if they put themselves in the direct path of the signal, above the emitter, and within 100 feet of the emitter beam for an extended period of time. As an added measure of safety, the Navy has mandated that crews shut down the emitters if people or animals are within the 100-foot safety zone around these vans when the systems are sending out the skyward signal,” Nakahara said.”” How on earth are they going to inform/stop the animals from staying away from the “beam”?!?
This is aweful! That mountain range and rain forests are so unique to our coast. No where else will we find an environment like it. Thank you for informing us. I will wait until the site is up, to leave my voice. We need to be the voice for this Washington gem!
To add these levels of radiation to this area, is too much, any radiation is too much. Compounded with what is coming this way via Fukushima and who knows what other disaster is next. THE EARTH MOVES…therefore only a matter of time until another nuclear reactor melts down, not to mention ones KNOWINGLY built on a fault as was Fukushima. What are you people trying to do? Annihilate the human race, destroy our ecosystem further than you already have, in our National Forests using our tax dollars? What part of NO don’t you understand? No! Stop! Why don’t all you boys who are so eager to play war do it on Mars? We’ll lend our tax dollars to get you the hell off this planet. It doesn’t belong to you. Wake UP!
That last one was my personal favorite.
Of course, pointing out that the emitters were pretty much less of a threat than cell phones led to a long discursion about how cell phones totally cause cancer, because some dude in Europe did a study. Yeah, well, some dude in Europe also “proved” cold fusion.
Still, not all is lost. The latest comment when I looked actually was pretty smart.
Rod Farlee says:
Neighbors, today we have much more accurate short term weather forecasts in the western Olympic Peninsula, thanks to a successful 15-year effort to install a new doppler weather radar covering the Washington coast. It is located on Langley Hill near Copalis Beach. http://www.atmos.washington.edu/cliff/Langleyradar.html
It transmits FIFTY TIMES the peak pulse microwave power of the proposed Navy radar simulators, and FIVE TIMES the average power. This high power is necessary for it to detect Doppler shifts in the returned signal, giving rainfall rates and wind speeds. It fills a gap, because the Olympic Mountains block Seattle’s Doppler radar. It is very useful and completely harmless.
Has it damaged the environment in any way? No.
Is the fear of the much weaker proposed Navy transmitters, having similar power output to hundreds of marine radars in use for decades by cargo and fishing vessels on the Olympic coast, rational? No.