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FM 34-43: Multiservice Procedures for Requesting Reconnaissance Information in a Joint Environment

Appendix D


1. Background

This appendix provides commanders, planners, and users of reconnaissance in joint operations with a general overview of United States Coast Guard (USCG) aviation assets that may have potential for reconnaissance collection applications.

2. The Coast Guard

The USCG is a branch of the US Department of Transportation in peacetime and augments the US Navy during wartime. This unique dual civil-military role means that Coast Guard units often participate in joint or multiservice operations as part of joint task forces. In recent years, USCG participation has ranged from counterdrug operations at home to deploying to the Persian Gulf in support of Operation Desert Storm. As a planner or user, you should be aware of Coast Guard reconnaissance capability which might be available and may have considerable benefit in military applications.

3. Coast Guard Reconnaissance

a. All Coast Guard aviation assets possess some reconnaissance capability. This capability ranges from the most basic, handheld optical cameras to highly-specialized, sophisticated sensor systems. Although many of the sensor systems used on USCG aircraft are for purposes such as search and rescue, law enforcement and drug interdiction, they are also useful for reconnaissance applications in joint military operations.

b. This appendix orients you to the basic characteristics and capabilities of USCG systems. If USCG forces are part of your joint task force, familiarize yourself with the material in this appendix, and then contact the Coast Guard officers attached to the JTF staff or assigned to the Coast Guard Area Commander's staff. They can advise you in detail on how to task and employ USCG assets.

4. General Capabilities

All US Coast Guard aircraft can provide visual and imagery reconnaissance. Imagery reconnaissance ranges from basic, hand-held 35mm photography to radar, infrared, and multispectral imaging, depending on the aircraft.

5. Visual Reconnaissance

The USCG has aircraft of long, medium, or short range with long, medium, and short endurance time. Coast Guard aircraft are universally employed as search platformsand are all capable of performing visual reconnaissance. Most USCG aircraft are equipped with large visual search windows, and crews are trained and equipped in visual search techniques. One aircraft type, the RG8A, can perform covert detection and surveillance missions.

6. Imagery Reconnaissance

a. Optical (Photographic) Imagery.

(1) Every USCG aircraft is capable of providing photographic imagery, usually in a 35mm format. However, most units do not have their own photo processing labs, so the product may be undeveloped film that must be processed by someone else. Several air stations, equipped with HC-130H or HU25 aircraft, can provide hand-held 70mm photographic imagery (either single frame photos or a continuous stream of photos taken in rapid succession). The high-speed black-and-white film used with the 70mm cameras can be processed at selected Coast Guard stations and selected Naval Air Stations (usually those associated with P-3C patrol aircraft operations).

(2) Coast Guard HU-25B aircraft can provide photo imagery using the aerial reconnaissance KS-87 camera. Although the Coast Guard has its own photo lab capable of processing the KS-87 film magazines, the lab may not be available in a deployed environment. Reconnaissance planners should therefore check on the availability of processing facilities for KS-87 film.

b. Non-optical Imagery.

(1) Radar.

(a) All USCG aircraft, except for the RG-8A motor glider, are equipped with some sort of airborne radar. While the radar used on helicopters is primarily a weather radar, fixed-wing aircraft have excellent surface-search radars as well as side-looking airborne radar (SLAR) capability.

(b) The HC-130H aircraft is equipped with an AN/APS-137 Inverse Synthetic Aperture (ISAR) Radar. This ISAR system can automatically track as many as 32 selected targets and continually updates an array of data on each target and includes a video recorder.

(c) The HU-25A and HU-25B aircraft are equipped with an AN/APS-127 surface search radar; however, there is no way to record the images produced by the radar. Thus, the reconnaissance products available from HU-25A/B aircrews using the APS-127 would be limited to verbal reports and would be limited to the aircrew's ability to interpret and describe the radar images they observe on the radar scope.

(d) Two types of Coast Guard fixed-wing aircraft can provide SLAR imagery: the HU-25B and the HC-130H. The HU-25B is primarily employed to measure and track the movement of oil spills. It was used in the Persian Gulf during Desert Storm to track the movement of the spill, to develop a computer model of the drift of the oil, and to determine where the oil was entering the Gulf. It has also been used in targeted operations to locate and track vessels illegally pumping bilges. Some HC-130H aircraft are also equipped with SLAR and in peacetime, they are primarily employed tracking icebergs in the North Atlantic Ocean.

(e) The SLAR product from either aircraft is a continuous roll of film that produces a black and white negative image of the surveyed area. The SLAR imagery from either aircraft can also be recorded on video tape.

(f) On the HU-25B, there is a portable personal computer (PC) operating a mapping program. The PC allows the sensor operator to read the film, indicate on the computer the location of the oil or other targets, and transmit the data via HF radio to another PC at a ground station. This produces a visual icon on the ground station PC depicting the location of the target within minutes of detection by the aircraft.

(2) Multispectral

(a) The HU-25B is also equipped with an infrared (IR)/ultraviolet (UV) scanner used primarily to measure the thickness of an oil product on the surface of the water. This data is recorded on video tape.

(b) The RG-8A motor glider has a "fusion video" system. It is a combination of forward-looking airborne radar (FLIR) and low light level TV (LLLTV) which produces an enhanced image using the best information from the two sensors working together.

(3) Infrared (FLIR).

Three types of USCG aircraft can record FLIR imagery on video tape: the HU25C, RG-8 motor glider, and the HH-60J helicopter. All three aircraft have FLIR sensors with a 360 degree viewing capability, enabling them to view targets in any direction from the aircraft's heading and position. The HU-25C features a belly-mounted FLIR turret that can be slaved to the aircraft's APG-66 air intercept radar. Target data information from the radar is overlaid onto the FLIR display and can also be recorded on the FLIR video tape.

(4) Night Vision Goggle (NVG) Video

Virtually all USCG aircraft types and their aircrews are equipped and trained with night vision goggles. USCG helicopter crews flying the HH-60J and HH-65A have the additional capability of taking NVG video with hand-held NVG video cameras. The cameras produce high quality images in the night environment and have proved effective in recording an illegal dumping incident.

7. Communications

US Coast Guard aircraft are normally equipped with a wide range of communications systems, all of which are interoperable with systems used by the other services. Standard communications radios include clear-channel UHF, VHF and HF radios, and the following secure systems:

a. Secure HF (advanced narrowband digital voice terminal [ANDVT]).

b. Secure UHF (KY-58/VINSON).

c. Secure VHF-FM.

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