Air Force eyes modeling software to understand how wind farms create radar dead spots

PETERSON AFB, Colo., 18 Nov. 2013. U.S. Air Force researchers are asking a Pennsylvania computer simulation company to design modeling software to help radar systems designers compensate for the dead spots that renewable energy wind farms cause in military air-defense radar, commercial air traffic control radar, and weather radar.

Officials of the Air Force Space Command at Peterson Air Force Base, Colo., announced their intention Friday to award a sole-source contract to Analytical Graphics, Inc. (AGI) of Exton, Pa., to design a new-generation Radar Obstruction Evaluation Model and Simulator to help experts understand how concentrations of energy-producing wind turbines can interfere with a variety of crucial radar systems.

The upcoming two-year contract, estimated to be worth about half a million dollars, will call for AGI to produce a new version of the company's Radar Obstruction Evaluation Model and Simulator (ROEMS) software, which will be called ROEMS II. The software tool is to be mature and ready for governmental validation at the end of the two project, Air Force officials say.

AGI experts will develop a software configuration-control architecture to provide software enhancements for scientific radar analysis capability for the U.S. and Canada.

Large wind farms have the potential to increase the costs of air travel and delay launching jet fighters on missions to protect the U.S. and Canada from possible enemy attack, radar experts say.

Aviation specialists are raising concerns that large wind turbines are creating blackout zones for military and air traffic control radars, and have the potential to create erroneous weather forecasts by spoofing weather radar systems, according to a story that ran this past week in the Ottawa Citizen by David Pugliese entitled Wind farms creating 'dead zones' for military radar, report warns.

The spinning blades of wind turbines are being detected by the radar, presenting false images or generating so much clutter on radar screens that controllers are losing track of airplanes as they fly near the wind farm sites, the story says.

Wind turbines, furthermore, also can interfere with weather radar, U.S. researchers have warned, the story goes on. The rotating blades can show up on radar as incoming weather, such as an area of precipitation.

AGI developed the first version of ROEMS, called ROEMS I,which was an adjunct program that plugs into AGI's proprietary Systems Tool Kit (STK) modeling program. ROEMS II is to be a specialized expansion of ROEMS I.

Those with questions or concerns about the upcoming contract to AGI may contact the Air Force's Jeane Steed by phone at 719-556-8087, or by email at jeane.steed@us.af.mil.

More information is online at https://www.fbo.gov/spg/USAF/AFSC/21CONSb365/FA2517-14-R-9000/listing.html.

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