Feeds

US Navy cuts ELF radio transmissions

Environmentalists welcome decision

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

Top three mobile application threats

The US Navy has called time on all its Extremely Low Frequency transmissions, saying that improvements in technology means that the communications system is now unneccessary.

The Navy used ELF transmissions - defined as the band of frequencies between 0Hz and 300Hz - for secure communications with submarines. The very low frequencies mean that the signal can penetrate far below the surface of the sea, reaching the deeply submerged vessels. The thought behind the project was that in the event of a nuclear attack by the USSR the US would be able to instruct its nuclear fleet to retaliate, without having to wait for the submarines to surface.

First proposed in 1968, the original specifications for ELF transmitters called for the antennae to cover an area of 22,500 miles - bigger than Belgium and the Netherlands combined. This was scaled down considerably, thanks to advances in technology and an assemement of the impact such a large electric field could have on local animal, and human, populations.

The Navy ran two transmission sites: one in Wisconsin, the other in Michigan. The ELF transmitters are huge structures, composed of power lines that stretch through the forests for up to 28 miles each. Big, but still small fry compared to the original plans.

The project was almost cancelled in the late 70s, but President Reagan revived it and it became operational in 1989. It is widely regarded as a relic of the Cold War. Philip Coyle, former under secretary of defense, now with the Centre for Defence Information told Michigan Public Radio: "This is a Cold War system, and the Cold War is over."

The Navy says new technology means the ELF system is no longer neccessary, and that it will switch to using a combination of satellites and Very Low Frequency (3-30kHz) transmitters instead.

Local residents say the closure of the centres will mean the loss of around 60 jobs, but environmentalists and anit-nuclear campaigners have welcomed the decision. ®

Related stories

US Emergency Alert System open to hack attack
UK scientists roll out Wi-Fi proof wallpaper
Dutch downplay 3G health scare study
Magnetic fields may cause childhood cancer

High performance access to file storage

More from The Register

next story
KILLER SPONGES menacing California coastline
Surfers are safe, crustaceans less so
Opportunity selfie: Martian winds have given the spunky ol' rover a spring cleaning
Power levels up 70 per cent as the rover keeps on truckin'
LOHAN and the amazing technicolor spaceplane
Our Vulture 2 livery is wrapped, and it's les noix du mutt
Liftoff! SpaceX Falcon 9 lifts Dragon on third resupply mission to ISS
SpaceX snaps smartly into one-second launch window
KILLER ROBOTS, DNA TAMPERING and PEEPING CYBORGS: the future looks bright!
Americans optimistic about technology despite being afraid of EVERYTHING
R.I.P. LADEE: Probe smashes into lunar surface at 3,600mph
Swan dive signs off successful science mission
Discovery time for 200m WONDER MATERIALS shaved from 4 MILLENNIA... to 4 years
Alloy, Alloy: Boffins in speed-classification breakthrough
prev story

Whitepapers

SANS - Survey on application security programs
In this whitepaper learn about the state of application security programs and practices of 488 surveyed respondents, and discover how mature and effective these programs are.
Combat fraud and increase customer satisfaction
Based on their experience using HP ArcSight Enterprise Security Manager for IT security operations, Finansbank moved to HP ArcSight ESM for fraud management.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Top three mobile application threats
Learn about three of the top mobile application security threats facing businesses today and recommendations on how to mitigate the risk.
3 Big data security analytics techniques
Applying these Big Data security analytics techniques can help you make your business safer by detecting attacks early, before significant damage is done.