UNITED24 - Make a charitable donation in support of Ukraine!


Pacific Missile Range Facility (PMRF)
NS Barking Sands

The Pacific Missile Range Facility (PMRF) is world's largest instrumented, multi-dimensional testing & training range. PMRF is the only range in the world where subsurface, surface, air and space vehicles can operate and be tracked simultaneously. This capability allows range users extraordinary flexibility in planning and conducting realistic multi-participant, multi-threat freeplay operations to train crews, evaluate tactics, and test weapon systems. Western Kauai is blessed with an ideal climate, averaging 361 sunny VFR flying days per years.

The mission of the Pacific Missile Range Facility(PMRF) is to facilitate Training, Tactics Development, and Test & Evaluations for air, surface, and sub-surface weapons systems and Advanced Technology Systems. PMRF provides the full spectrum of instrument range support, including; radar, underwater instrumentation, telemetry, electronic warfare, target remote command & control, communications, target launching facilities, data display, data processing and target/weapon launching and recovery facilities.

The headquarters and primary operation center of PMRF occupies approximately 1800 acres and is located on the western shore of the island of Kauai. The nearest town, Kekaha, is eight miles to the south and east. Supporting instrumentation sites at Makaha Ridge and Kokee Park overlook the vast ocean range areas to the west and north Kauai. The range encompasses 42,000 sq. miles of sea and air space and has minimal encroachments. The underwater tracking range extends over a 1000 sq. miles areas. PMRF features a state of the art instrumentation suite & communication network.

Lead range in the Pacific for Aegis Combat System Ship Qualification Training, PMRF puts new Aegis platforms through extensive testing & training prior to initial deployment. Collocated with the Sandia National Laboratory Kauai Test Facility, PMRF is the lead range for launching the Strategic Target System. No other range has the unencroached geographic expanse necessary to support wide area defense sensor and cooperative engagement capability testing.

Located in Hawaii on the western shores of the Island of Kauai, the PMRF range includes broad ocean areas to the north, south, and west with varying water depths from 400 to 2,500 fathoms. PMRF's relative isolation, ideal year-round tropical climate, and encroachment-free environment are significant factors in PMRF's excellent record for operation completions. PMRF's proximity to major Department of Defense installations and organizations, and to University of Hawaii ocean research facilities on Oahu, presents major cost and operational benefits to the range user. Transportation of project personnel, equipment, and materials is easily accommodated via commercial or military systems.

The area surrounding Kauai is divided into warning areas with W-186 and W-188 controlled by PMRF. The Fleet Area Control and Surveillance Facility (FACSFAC) controls W-187, 189, and 190. Space, air, and surface tracking are accomplished from PMRF precision-tracking radar sites at elevations of 75 ft., 1700 ft., and 3800 ft. These are supported by radar systems operated by agencies external to PMRF.

PMRF has extensive range instrumentation that is primarily used in the W-186 and W-188 areas, however capability exists to provide exercise/test support in-port, on-deck, in-transit and in other operating areas.

The Hawaiian Islands Complex is located in the waters adjacent to the islands of Oahu, Kauai, Maui, Hawaii, and Niihau. Instrumentation and equipment provided by PMRF are available to conduct in-port, on-deck, in-transit and range training exercises and tests in R-3101, W-186, W-188 and elsewhere. The complex is composed of the following instrumented areas and ranges:

  • Restricted Area 3101 (R-3101)
  • Barking Sands Tactical Underwater Range (BARSTUR)
  • Barking Sands Underwater Range Expansion (BSURE)
  • Hawaiian Area Tracking System (HATS)
  • Restricted Area (R-3107), Warning Area 187 (W-187), Kaula Rock
  • Warning Area 186 (W-186
  • Warning Area 188 (W-188)
  • Large Area Tracking Range (LATR)
  • Shipboard Electronic Systems Evaluation Facility (SESEF)

Non-instrumented warning areas and special operating areas associated with this complex are:

  • Warning Area 189 (W-189)
  • Warning Area 190 (W-190)
  • Warning Area 191 (W-191)
  • Warning Area 192 (W-192)
  • Warning Area 193 (W-193)
  • Warning Area 194 (W-194)
  • Warning Area 196 (W-196)
  • Echo Area
  • Uniform Area

The Pacific Missile Range (PMRF) Facility's Large Area Tracking Range (LATR) system is an offshore, over-the-horizon, time space position information tracking system. The system supports tactical training at PMRF Barking Sands, Kauai; Wheeler Army Base, Oahu; and the 199th Fighter Wing at Hickam Air Force Base, Oahu. This upgrade uses newer technology that provides live control, in addition to debriefing capability. LATR integration gives the warfighter the ability to track and analyze open-ocean "war-at-sea" scenarios. It tests the combat readiness and battle tactics capabilities of the combat pilot. The first upgrade was installed at PMRF. The Navy has the option to upgrade the other LATR sites as well. The integration was pre-tested at the Oceana TACTS range, and then flown out to PMRF.

The PMRF Underwater Range consists of a 120-nmi2 area in the channel between Kauai and Niihau Islands in water depths from 200 to 1,000 fathoms, joining a 900-nmi2 area which extends into the open ocean north and west of Kauai, with depths from 1,000 to 2,500 fathoms. Hydrophones connected to the Underwater Data Processing system at Barking Sands yield 10-ft tracking accuracy throughout the Underwater Range. Underwater communications are provided through bottom-mounted transducers.

PMRF facilities on Oahu provide range services to ships and aircraft operating in the areas off Pearl Harbor, as well as ships in port and aircraft on the ramp. Operations support services are also provided in other remote training areas located on neighboring islands in the Hawaiian chain.

PMRF is capitalizing on new and affordable technologies to improve existing products, systems, and processes. Using a combinations of military and commercial communications pathways PMRF is expanding its inter connectivity with command staffs, test ranges, laboratories, and simulations facilities worldwide to enable real-time exchange or sharing of data.

PMRF measurement systems provide the capability to track, surveil, and collect telemetry from surface, airborne, and space vehicles. Underwater tracking is accomplished by a bottom mounted hydrophone array. Tracking and telemetry data is recorded, displayed in a variety of user formats, and may be electronically transferred in real time to customer data processing sites. The PMRF local area network utilizes fiber optic lines to ensure a clean, reliable information exchange. established connectivity with CONUS ranges, labs and facilities enables the sharing of data.

PMRF has developed an EW capability for use with all service requirements. Available ECM and threat emitter systems include land base, portable mobile, marine, and airborne systems, All combine to provide a multi-axis multi-threat presentation. PMRF EW assets are available to conduct in-port, on deck, in-transit, and on-range EW training and testing in designated areas throughout the state of Hawaii.

PMRF support the full spectrum of subsurface, surface, and airborne targets. Targets can be specially augmented with flares, emitters, and reflectors to affect their presentations. PMRF's C-12 aircraft, H-3 helicopters, Septars, and range boats all perform as cooperative mobile targets PMRF's helicopter, Septars, and range boats all perform as cooperative mobile targets. PMRF's helicopters and range boats perform target launch and recovery functions.

PMRF's Battle Management Interoperability Center (BMIC) contains the operational systems necessary to communicate and coordinate the complex activities involved in live fire testing and training. The BMIC enables a Joint task force Commander to access, display and disseminate tactical information (via OTCIXS) and Imagery (via STU III). The BMIC scenario generation system enables the use of synthetic data to stimulate C3 systems to enhance training realism.

The Pacific Missile Range Facility maintains and operates two contiguous underwater tracking ranges off the island of Kauai, Hawaii. The Barking Sands Tactical Underwater Range (BARSTUR) is located west of the island and consists of 42 bottom-mounted hydrophones which provide a coverage area of approximately 100 square nautical miles. The Barking Sands Underwater Range Expansion (BSURE) is located northwest of the island and consists of 18 hydrophones which provide a coverage area of 880 square nautical miles.

The PMRF has an acoustic system that uses the BARSTUR hydrophones for impact detection and scoring. The system is a post exercise, non-real-time approach that uses tape recorded hydrophone data. The data from several hydrophone channels are replayed on an oscillograph recorder. By visual inspection, the impact transient signals are distinguished from reverberation, extraneous noise, and non-impact related events. Time differences of arrival of the impact between pairs of hydrophones are measured manually and input to a computer program which calculates the impact location.

In response to technical requirements, PMRF listed mines, sonobuoys, air-launched torpedoes, vertical launch antisubmarine rockets (ASROC), and naval gunfire as the types of impacts. In addition, PMRF provides a number of other special applications for transient and continuous wave (CW) pulse type signals, where their existing detection and location system has been used in the past, but either a fully or semiautomated system would be more timely and productive. These include generating fixes on Dukane pingers; detecting and locating a torpedo end-of-run squib for torpedo recovery; B-52 bomb scoring; UQC and transponder surveys; tracking active sonobuoys; determining splash point and squib firing posits for a rocket assisted penetrator; and determining the depth of implosion for certain devices. The PMRF did not provide inputs on the area of coverage and accuracy; however, it is presumed that the required area is consistent with the present tracking coverage at BARSTUR which is approximately 100 square nautical miles. Similarly, it is presumed that the required accuracy is consistent with that attained with the NGSS which is 5 to 10 yards.

With the exception of naval gunfire which requires a fully automated, real-time system, PMRF would prefer a semiautomated, near real-time system for the other applications, because the acoustic impact signature may not always be known in some cases. Ideally, the signals from several hydrophones would be provided on a monitor where an analyst would select the impact transients to be used in the position solution. This desired approach is similar to the system presently in use at the AUTEC.

Range Control and the Operation Control Centers are in the Barking Sands operations area, one-half mile from the main gate. Tracking and surveillance radars, data processing, and the communication network hut are included in the operations area. A target support and red-label area is a mile north of the main gate, with the PMRF ordnance and launching area farther to the north. Airfield facilities in the main area of Barking Sands are capable of supporting up to and including C5-type cargo aircraft, tactical aircraft, and helicopters. Range support aircraft include six UH-3A helicopters which are used for surveillance, personnel transfer, logistics, target launch, and weapon/target recovery; and two RC-12F fixed-wing aircraft for range surveillance, electronic warfare, and logistics.

A benefit to range users is that range support from external agencies, including the following, is coordinated through the PMRF Program Manager.

The Naval Undersea Warfare Center (NUWC) maintains a facility at PMRF and a detachment at Waianae, Oahu, to provide Mk-30 underwater target services, exercise reconstruction, and range pinger installation services.

Sandia National Laboratories operates the Kauai Test Facility (KTF) for the Department of Energy and, through inter-Service Support Agreements (ISSA), provides PMRF with rocket launch services for target systems and upper atmosphere measurements. PMRF/KTF is recognized in the ABM Treaty as an authorized site from which launches of the STARS missile can be conducted. Environmental documentation is in place for a number of operational launch scenarios.

The Sandia Maui Haleakala Facility, linked to PMRF via leased circuits, provides telemetry receiving/recording, flight following, command control and flight termination systems for high-altitude/exoatmospheric launches from PMRF, and for high-altitude operations which traverse the Hawaiian Island chain.

The Air Force Maui Optical Station (AMOS), the Maui Optical Tracking and Identification Facility (MOTIF), and the Ground-based Electro-optical Deep Space Surveillance System (GEODSS), are located at the Maui Space Surveillance Site (MSSS) atop Mount Haleakala, provide a unique vantage point for observing sub-orbital vehicles.

The Hawaii Air National Guard provides O&M of the Hawaii Digital Microwave System (HDMS). The Hawaii Tracking Station, located at Kaena Point, Oahu, provides real-time telemetry data to PMRF via the HDMS. The 30th Range Squadron at Kaena Point provides metric and signature tracking data from their FPQ-14 radar via the HDMS.

Wheeler Network Communications Control (WNCC) is a major communications hub for PMRF. Voice and data signals are relayed through the HDMS to the WNCC from Mount Kaala, and are further distributed to other military and commercial communications networks. Hawaiian Telephone Company provides a dedicated T1 data link on the FTS2000 network from Barking Sands to AT&T on Oahu which provides CONUS interconnectivity to the Naval Warfare Assessment Division (NWAD), Corona, California. This link provides the capability for data reduction at NWAD and for nationwide video teleconferencing.

Since 1958, PMRF has performed over 6000 major training and T&E operations. Over the years customers have included all the services of the United States Military, many agencies of the Department of Energy & NASA, and many university & contractor research and development programs. United States allies such Australia, Japan, Canada, and the Republic of South Korea utilize PMRF for a variety of training and T&E operations.

For almost every aspect of Hawaiian life, there is a legend to explain the subject, but there is not always an explanation of the legend itself. Some have to be taken on faith. So it is with the Legend of Barking Sands. At a time long ago, an old Hawaiian fisherman lived in a hut near the beach with his nine dogs. During his fishing trips he would tie his dogs to stakes in the sand, three to each of three stakes. He would then get into his canoe and go fishing.

One day while he was at sea and the dogs were tied as usual, he was caught in a very bad storm. For hours he battled the heavy seas until he was finally able to return to land. He was so exhausted that he crawled into his hut, forgetting to untie the dogs. When he awoke the next morning and went outside, the dogs were nowhere in sight. All he saw were three small mounds of sand where the dogs had been tied. As he stepped on one of the mounds, he heard a low bark. Another step brought another bark, still he couldn't find the dogs. Believing the dogs had been buried in the sand because of the storm, the fisherman began to dig. As each shovelful was removed, more sand took its place. He finally gave up, and every day after that when he crossed the beach he could hear the low barking. The dogs were never found and to this day the sands of Mana have been known as the Barking Sands. After a time, the old fisherman died, some say from a broken heart for losing his dogs. Time passed, and in 1921, the land area known as the Barking Sands was acquired by the Kekaha Sugar Company from the Knudsen family. On occasion private planes would land and take off from the grassy field used for pasture.

In 1932, an Australian named Kingsford Smith made a historic flight from Barking Sands to Australia in a Ford Trimotor. Local people assisted him by clearing the runway area, filling holes, and marking the runway with flags at 1,000-foot intervals and whitewash at 500-foot intervals. The Kekaha Sugar Company brought fuel for his plane in barrels.

In 1940, the U.S. Army acquired 549 acres of land, including the grass landing field by Executive Order of the Territory Governor, Charles Hite. The Installation became known as "Mana Airport," and the Army paved the runway and made other building improvements. The only money involved in the transfer was $1,000 for administrative expenses.

In June 1941, additional acreage was transferred to the Army bringing the total land area to 2,058 acres. Hawaiian Airlines used the field for passenger stops, and Pan American Airlines made occasional landings at the field until Lihue Airport was completed in 1949. Barking Sands experienced very heavy military traffic during World War II, and a series of land transfers and easements caused continual changes in the total real estate assigned to the installation. Many name changes also followed: Mana Airport, Mana Airfield Military Reservation, Barking Sands Military Reservation, Kekaha Military Reservation, Barking Sands Airfield, Bonham Airfield, Bonham Air Force Base, Bonham Air Base, and Auxiliary Landing Field (ALF) Bonham.

In 1948, the Air Force Chief of Staff declared that Barking Sands Military Reservation was of no further use and that action would be taken to declare the base excess, with the concurrence of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The Department of Air Force disapproved the recommendations and action was taken to acquire an additional 200 acres adjacent to Barking Sands, and in 1954 the name of the base was officially changed to Bonham Air Force Base.

The Navy's introduction to Barking Sands (Bonham AFB), was in 1956 when the Air Force granted a five year revocable joint utilization license to use 37 acres for Regulus I operations. Two years later, in November 1958, the Pacific Missile Range Facility was formally established with a PMR Representative Office at Kaneohe MCAS on Oahu. Meanwhile, the Navy was becoming the principal user of Bonham AFB, later called ALF Bonham, and formal negotiations began to transfer the base to the Navy. In 1962, the Pacific Missile Range Facility, Hawaiian Area was officially commissioned under a Commanding Officer. In 1963 a detachment was established at Johnston Atoll.

In 1964, negotiations were completed, and ALF Bonham officially transferred 1,885 acres of Barking Sands to the Navy. In 1966, Barking Sands was transferred within the Navy to the Commanding Officer, Pacific Missile Range, and renamed, "Pacific Missile Range Facility, Barking Sands." By this time, PMR had established a chain of stations throughout the Pacific. Besides Barking Sands and Kokee, several downrange stations under PMR included South Point, Hawaii; Midway Island; Wake Island, Eniwetok Atoll; Tern Island; Christmas Island; Canton Island; and the recovery ships, USNS Longview and USNS Sunnyvale.

In 1967, the Barking Sands Tactical Underwater Range (BARSTUR), and the Makaha Ridge Instrumentation Site, were completed. In 1968, the Command Headquarters, Pacific Missile Range Facility, Hawaiian Area was established at Barking Sands.

Facility improvements and expansions followed through 1974, and due to changing requirements and for more effective management and support, most of the "downrange" facilities were closed or transferred.

Kauai is pronounced ka-WAH-ee with the accent on the "wai" and a glottal break between the last two syllables (as in Ha'wai'i). A general translation of the word Kauai is "time of plenty" or "fruitful season." Know as the Garden Island, Kauai is famous for its flowering shrubs, vines and trees that grace the countryside year round with a beautiful background of every shade of green imaginable. Mount Waialeale, "Rippling Water," rising to 5,170 feet at Kawaikini Peak in the very center of the island, is the wettest spot on earth with 465 inches of annual rainfall, and is the source of Hawaii's only navigable rivers.

The beautiful Mount Waialeale also inspired the island's ancient name, "Kauai-a-mamo-ka-lani-po" which means "The fountainhead of many waters from on high and bubbling up from below." Kauai is also a land of contrasts with the startling rocky grandeur of Waimea Canyon, the virgin purity of Killable Valley, where wild cattle, goats, pigs and deer graze, the sunny desert warmth of the west side, and on the north shore, beautiful Lumahai Beach, known to many as Bali Hai in the movie "South Pacific." Geologically, Kauai is believed to be the oldest of the inhabited Hawaiian Islands, being the first of a chain of volcanic mountains to erupt from the sea and the first to become extinct. Historically, it is also the oldest of the group. Archaeological findings indicate that Kauai was probably inhabited over 1,000 years before Captain Cook's landing in Waimea on January 19, 1778. Kauai is the northernmost of the inhabited islands that make up the state of Hawaii, and is located 95 miles northwest of Oahu. It is roughly circular in shape, with a diameter of 32 miles and and area of 55 square miles. Kauai of today is a modern community with a population of approximately 55,000. Kauai's major industries are agriculture and tourism. The island produces one third of Hawaii's sugar crop. Much of the processing is mechanized, but the island's sugar plantations still employ many island residents. Cattle roam several large ranges and numerous smaller ones. Hogs and chickens are raised and marketed.

On Kauai, as in all of Hawaii, the tourism industry is increasing rapidly. Four major resort areas with their corresponding hotels, shops, restaurants and recreational facilities employ many island residents. Hawaii's cost of living is higher than that of most mainland areas, especially for housing and food. Some food items may be cheaper than on the mainland, but for the most part, transportation costs from the west coast represent the major cost difference. A new world of eating awaits you in Hawaii, inspired by the mixed ethnic background of the residents, Filipino, Portuguese, Japanese, Chinese and Hawaiian dishes are common. Most vegetable and fruits can be grown here with relative ease. Garden enthusiasts thus have an excellent opportunity to shrink their grocery bills considerably. Mangoes, papaya, bananas, plums, guavas, lilikoi (passion fruit), coconuts and other fruits grown wild on the island, providing an additional no-cost food source and many delightful new tastes.

The Legend of Barking Sands; There was an old Hawaiian fisherman who lived in a hut near the beach with his nine dogs. During his fishing trips he would tie his dogs to stakes in the sand, three to each of three stakes. He would then get into his canoe and go fishing. One day while he was at sea and the dogs were tied as usual, he was caught in a very bad storm. For hours he battled the heavy seas until he was finally able to return to land. He was so exhausted that he crawled to his hut, forgetting to untie his dogs. When he awoke the next morning and went outside, the dogs were nowhere in sight. All he saw were three small mounds of sand where the dogs had been tied. As he stepped on one of the mounds, he heard a low bark. Another step brought another bark, Still he couldn't find the dogs. Believing the dogs had been buried in the sand because of the storm the day before, the fisherman began to dig. As each shovel full was removed, more sand took its place. He finally gave up, and every day after that when he crossed the beach he could hear the low barking. The dogs were never found, and to this day the sands of Mana have been know as Barking Sands. The scientific explanation of this phenomenon is that the grains of Mana sand are tinny, hollow spheres. When rubbed together, the give off a popping sound similar to the barking of dogs. This only occurs when the sand is very dry. Wet sand gives off almost no sound.


Join the GlobalSecurity.org mailing list