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Cheyenne Mountain Complex
Cheyenne Mountain Division
The Air Warning Center (AWC) is the focal point for providing aerospace warning and aerospacecontrol for North America. It provides command and control of the air surveillance and defense network, using air and ground-based radars inside and along the periphery of North America. The AWC closely monitors the airspace of Canada and the United States to detect any aircraft or cruise missiles that might violate our airspace or represent a threat.
Approximately 7,000 aircraft per day or 2.5 million aircraft a year enter Canada and the United States. Since the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, the AWC's mission of Aerospace Warning and Aerospace Control has expanded to include the interior airspace of North America. Today, the AWC monitors approximately 5,000 aircraft flying inside Canada and the United States in addition to monitoring aircraft entering North America.
As part of this mission, a small percentage of aircraft flying inside as well as outside the borders of Canada and the United States are categorized as "unknown." It is the responsibility of the AWC to determine the identity of these unknown aircraft. For the year 2000, the total number of "unknowns" was 115. For the year 2001, the number was 676.
To accomplish this mission the center uses an array of radar systems and airborne interceptors. Most unknown tracks are subsequently identified as friendly aircraft that have erred from flight plans or used improper procedures.
The Joint Space Operations Center (JSPOC) supports United States Strategic Command (USSTRATCOM) missions of surveillance and protection of U.S. assets in space. The JSPOC’s primary objective in performing the surveillance mission is to detect, track, identify, and catalog all man-made objects orbiting earth.
The JSPOC maintains a current computerized catalog of all orbiting man-made objects, charts preset positions, plots future orbital paths, and forecasts times and general location for significant man-made objects reentering the Earth’s atmosphere.
Since the launch of Sputnik in 1957, over 26,000 man-made objects have been catalogued, many of which have since re-entered the atmosphere. Currently, the JSPOC tracks over 8,500 man-made objects, approximately 20 percent of those being tracked are functioning payloads or satellites.
The JSPOC protection mission consists of electro-magnetic interference (EMI), solar phenomena, laser clearing, intentional threat, and collision avoidance. The JSPOC compiles information on hostile events that could directly or indirectly threaten U.S. or allied space assets. This information is analyzed to determine potential impacts on assets so that timely warnings and recommendations for suitable countermeasures can be made.
One important protection mission the JSPOC conducts on a regular basis is collision avoidance analysis for the Space Shuttle and the International Space Station (ISS).
The JSPOC constructs a theoretical box around a high interest object, e.g. the Space Shuttle and projects the flight path of the Space Shuttle 36 to 72 hours. If any of the catalogued objects intersects this theoretical box, the JSPOC will forward the analysis to the NASA. NASA will make the determination whether to change the flight path of the shuttle. Since the inception of this mission in 1981, NASA has moved the Space Shuttle 12 times and the ISS 6 times based on the JSPOC’s analysis.
The Missile Correlation Center (MCC) uses a worldwide communications and sensor network to provide warning of missile attacks launched against North America or U.S. forces overseas 24/7. The MCC integrates "strategic" and "theater" missions. The strategic mission focuses on missiles launched from anywhere on the globe that are a potential threat to Canada or the United States.
The theater mission is concerned with short-range missile launches that could threaten U.S. or allied forces. The MCC also tracks space launches worldwide in support of international treaties and safety. The MCC’s capability to provide timely and accurate warning have improved considerably since the Gulf War and continues to improve as new computer and communications systems are added to Cheyenne Mountain Division.
The CMD Command Center (CCC) is the fusion center of all operations inside Cheyenne Mountain. In this center, the Command Director (CD) and his crew serve as NORAD, USNORTHCOM, and USSTRATCOM’s direct representative for monitoring, processing, and interpreting missile, space, or air events which could threaten North America or have operational impacts on our forces or capabilities.
The CCC fuses data from the other centers and passes it to the leadership of the United States and Canada, as well as regional command centers overseas.
When required, the CD must consult directly with Commander NORAD and USNORTHCOM, and Commander USSTRATCOM for time-critical assessments of missile, air, and space events.
The Operational Intelligence Watch (OIW) serves as the nation’s warning center for worldwide threats from space, missile, and strategic air activity, as well as geopolitical unrest that could affect North America and U.S. forces abroad. The OIW gathers intelligence information assisting Cheyenne Mountain Division in analyzing, validating, and correlating events which supports NORAD, USNORTHCOM, and USSTRATCOM decision makers.
The 721st Communications Mission Systems Flight personnel provided absolutely superior support to their customers: NORAD, USSTRATCOM, USNORTHCOM, the Secretary of Defense, the President, and strategic and theater commanders by managing and controlling missile warning, aerospace defense and space surveillance communications and computer systems. Their one-of-a-kind training program produced trained and certified officers and enlisted to manage and control the communications and computer systems that execute the Integrated Tactical Warning and Attack Assessment (ITW/AA) mission. The ITW/AA mission consists of critical missile warning, air defense and space surveillance mission functions. Due to the complexity of the managed systems, it takes an average of 12-15 months to become fully qualified. To become fully qualified as a Senior Systems Controller, each trainee must read 12 study guides, master over 900 critical tasks and perform an average of 40-60 hours of hands-on training. In order to maintain command and control of 11 major systems and over 600 circuits, and to ensure continuous operation of missile warning, air defense, and space surveillance missions, controllers performed and managed the operations functions using 220-plus checklists and directed the actions of 17 work centers at the Cheyenne Mountain Air Force Station and the Alternate Missile Warning Center (AMWC), located at Offutt Air Force Base.
The 21st Operations Support Squadron, Weather Flight, located at Peterson Air Force Base, Colorado provides weather reports to Cheyenne Mountain Division 24/7. The 21st Operations Support Squadron, Weather Flight, performs continuous meteorological monitoring of terrestrial, geophysical, and solar (space) weather events that could affect U.S. space assets, NORAD, USNORTHCOM, and USSTRATCOM units, their missions, and equipment.
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