As I have mentioned before, I keep an eye on military air activity in and around the US, and there has been some unusual activity since the weird goings on from the unexplained ground stop on January 11. It’s been cold and raining, so I can’t get any work done outside. I already fixed the faulty sensor in the dishwasher, so I am sitting here online.

There are Russian ships doing what the Soviets did during the cold war: they are sitting just offshore of our Naval facilities, keeping an eye on things, as well as Russian long range aircraft nearing US Pacific bases. The US is responding by flying more P8 and drone patrols off the coast of Jacksonville and King’s Bay, Hawaii, Norfolk, and Puget Sound. For example, here is a track of two aircraft near Cape Canaveral:

The Blue one is a P8 Poseidon antisubmarine patrolling between 8,000 and 25,000 feet. The yellow is an unidentified military aircraft that has been patrolling at 6,000 to 10,000 feet.

There are similar tracks up and down the east coast. For example, here are another pair of P8s patrolling just to the north of Military Ocean Terminal Sunny Point, which is the main ammunition shipping terminal for the east coast.

Here is a P3 Orion (the lime green one) and a P8, both patrolling off the coast of Jacksonville. The orange aircraft is a P8 that appears to be landing in Jacksonville. What is different about the P3, is that it has a magnetic anomaly detector, while the P8 does not. The MAD allows for the localization of large metallic objects, like submarines.

The P3 is being phased out of service, with only two reserve squadrons left that still operate the aircraft.

Also, last night I tracked an E6 Mercury that took off from Andrews and flew a racetrack that extended from Andrews down to Miami. They were on their second lap when I went to bed last night at around 2200. Here is an E6 taking off at noon from Pax River:

The E6 is a command and control aircraft for America’s nuclear submarines. Keep in mind that the US claims that no nuclear control aircraft are on airborne alert. Other than for training, the US has claimed since 1990 that they no longer maintain a continuous airborne alert. That apparently hasn’t been the case for the past two weeks, at least. The one that I have observed on the east coast flies up and down the coast. A west coast E6 has been seen flying out to sea before disappearing over the pacific, or has been seen appearing out of the pacific and flying back. Here it is, leaving California, headed out into the Pacific at 1315:

There was a surveillance drone circling off the Georgia coast at an altitude of over 30,000 feet for more than 12 hours yesterday. The racetrack ran from about the latitude of Jacksonville, FL all the way to the South Carolina border, about 60 miles offshore. The drone both took off an landed in the Jacksonville area.

There are two conclusions to be drawn from this: Either the US military is greatly increasing its training tempo, or its alert status. Either way, this is interesting.

Categories: Military


ChuckInBama · January 25, 2022 at 1:24 pm

It all bloomed after the reports of the Russian boomer off Norfolk last week. There has also been an increase in C-17 traffic to Europe. Even tracked a drone out of Crete looking into Eastern Ukraine from a stand-off orbit. The War Machine is awakening.

Jonathan · January 25, 2022 at 3:49 pm

Yup, they are preparing for something… reminds me of what the public would have seen during The Hunt for Red October.

But also, don’t forget that it is the beginning of the year and in some cases funding and equipment becomes available now, so it isn’t too surprising for training tempos to pick up.

I hadn’t heard about a Russian Boomer turning up, but that would definitely cause a pickup in operations!

    Divemedic · January 25, 2022 at 4:20 pm

    The budget isn’t done by calendar year. It’s done by fiscal year. As anyone in government service can tell you, one of two things begins to happen in government funded entities:
    In June or July, entities that have spent too much begin to curtail operations, so as to make what is left of the budget last to September 30.
    In August or early September, government agencies will begin an orgy of spending, as any entity that doesn’t spend its entire budget will see that budget cut the next year.
    Either course will see spending begin anew on October 1, the beginning of the new fiscal year.

Lori · January 25, 2022 at 5:46 pm

Are you serious that P-8’s don’t have MADs? How then do they do their thing?? Divining rod?

    Divemedic · January 25, 2022 at 6:24 pm

    No, the P8 has no MAD. They do their thing with surface search radar and sonobouys. It also has a hydrocarbon sensor to detect exhaust from ships and snorkeling diesel submarines.
    I believe that they can work with UAVs that are designed for ASW, and the drones use MAD, but I am not sure on that.

Craig · January 25, 2022 at 9:32 pm

Working near Travis AFB, lots of activity. Not sure if is increasing. Will keep an eye out on type and frequency of flights. I use a different app for tracking.

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