The United States Department of Defense (DoD) recently announced that it will be conducting undisclosed military exercises from September 2nd through October 1st of 2015. The exercises will encompass Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia and Florida, extending approximately 200 nautical miles offshore.
During this time, TCAS (Traffic Collision Avoidance Systems) and ADS-B (Automatic Dependent Surveillance Broadcasts) will be unreliable (if available at all). Pilots and air traffic controllers use these systems to communicate with one another and to track the position of nearby aircraft. With these systems down, they will be unable to track aircraft (civilian, military or otherwise) or receive traffic alerts or resolution advisories.
These announcements were posted less than 24 hours before they were to take effect and specifically state:
“PILOTS ARE ADVISED THAT TRACKS MAY FIRST APPEAR WITHIN CLOSE PROXIMITY TO THEIR AIRCRAFT AND MAY IMMEDIATELY GO INTO TA/RA STATUS.”
“RA (Radar Altitude) Status“ refers to a minimum altitude on an instrument approach, determined by the indication of the radar altimeter, rather than the barometric altimeter. It is usually associated with Category 2 & 3 approaches, meaning that aircraft could be flying within 1/4 mile of one another before they are able to be detected (WELL within the range of military air-to-air missiles).
Most notably, the U.S. military disabled/hijacked the TCAS and ADS-B control systems on the morning of 9/11, preventing pilots and air traffic controllers from knowing which blips on their radar were real and which ones were not.
Be safe and mindful folks, especially if you live in any of the affected areas. Stay conscious my friends.
~ MERIT FREEMAN