Air Defense: June 16, 2003


While the Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa (CJTF-HOA) land-based headquarters might be set in a very primitive corner of the world, the coalition forces are using the latest technology to secure their base against potential air attacks. While the military didn't specify what enemy they were preparing against, the most-likely threat would be from a kamikaze terrorist pilot in a light general aviation aircraft. The US government published a warning about this possibility on May 1, 2003. Less-likely but more dangerous threats could include hijacked airliners, like the Boeing 727 that disappeared from Luanda's airport on May 25, 2003.

In order to defend Camp Lemonier against a variety of aerial threats, CJTF-HOA and French troops stationed in Djibouti conducted a joint exercise designed to hone their antiaircraft tactics, techniques and procedures. The French ground troops, who are part of Camp Lemonier's base defense plan, set up several "Mistral" Anti-Air Missile Systems in different key locations around the camp to track the planes. These short-range 80 pound systems have a range of up to six kilometers, which they can reach in nine seconds. French Mirage aircraft served as an enemy force, flying typical offensive patterns that simulated attack profiles. 

The CJTF-HOA also added an Air Defense Integrated System (ADSI) to its arsenal at the end of May, enhancing their ability to track airplanes and ships throughout the Horn of Africa region. The ADSI depicts all civilian/military planes and ships in near-real-time feeds to a computer screen 24 hours, seven days a week, using images generated from all of the coalition force's ships, planes and land-based radar. The ADSI then blends all of these data streams into a central image. If the system showed a vessel attempting to run a blockade, it would give a proactive warning and the task force commander could send coalition forces to intercept the offender. The system can also monitor friendly units in the field, as well as gather information like the speed, the model and direction of a moving vehicle. This gives the area commander the ability to make up-to-date decisions about the situation and choose an appropriate response.

There are two variants of the ADSI here, a stationary one and a mobile (aboard a Humvee that can be setup and online within 40 minutes). The stationary system takes approximately 48 hours to setup and activate. - Adam Geibel


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