Wind and National Security

Several questions have been raised about whether rotating blades on wind turbines are interfering with radar at airports and military installations.

Wind Turbine. Photo by D. Dears
Wind Turbine. Photo by D. Dears

There have been several confrontations between military installations and wind farm developers, including:

  • Boardman Naval Weapons System Training Facility in Oregon
  • Naval Air Warfare Center Weapons Division in California
  • Naval Air Station Kingsville in Texas
  • Dare County Bombing Range in North Carolina

One of the more interesting situations, and one that definitely affects national security, is at the Patuxent Naval Air Station along Maryland’s Eastern Shore, where there is a proposal to build a wind farm along Chesapeake Bay.

Once again, it pits advocates for alternative energy against the safety of American servicemen and women.

The United States has developed amazing stealth fighters and bombers that are crucial to any attempt to destroy enemy air defenses. Without the ability to destroy such defenses many American lives will be lost.

During Desert Storm, the F-117A Nighthawk flew 1,300 combat missions without the loss of a single plane.

But technology doesn’t stand still, either defensive or offensive, and advances in technologies must be tested and evaluated.

The Patuxent NAS is where new designs and equipment are tested. It is the only facility of its kind in the world, according to our military.

The radar cross section testing of aircraft is essential to ensuring their survivability.

Both military and FAA radar work by emitting signals and then evaluating the return signal. This occurs at airports, such as Kennedy and SFO airports, and at military bases.

The rotating blades of wind turbines produce echoes that can be interpreted as coming from aircraft. The wind turbine blades can appear to be an airplane, or they can result in numerous false tracks and clutter. They can also result in dropping actual aircraft from the screen, or, even worse, indicate an aircraft is in a different location. (Reference: USNI Proceedings, February 2015)

A large investment has been made at Patuxent in highly specialized equipment to ensure that the United States maintains a war fighting advantage with superior stealth technology.

The test range at Patuxent covers a 3,000-square-mile expanse extending over Chesapeake Bay.

It’s critical that the test range be kept free of electromagnetic interference to allow the proper testing of aircraft, not only new designs, but also exiting aircraft that have been modified with new weapon systems to be certain their stealthiness has been maintained.

To help resolve the conflict between DOD and the advocates of clean energy, DOD commissioned the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) to asses whether wind turbines along Chesapeake Bay would interfere with the ability to test aircraft at Patuxent NAS.

The MIT study determined that the wind farm would interfere with testing, and that the mission at Patuxent couldn’t be accomplished if the wind farm was built.

It appears as though enough political pressure is being put on DOD to force DOD to accept the installation of the wind farm, even though the wind farm will damage the installation’s effectiveness and put American pilots at risk in any future conflict.

In essence, we are allowing the proponents of clean energy to harm other Americans.

The Chesapeake Bay wind farm is the most egregious example, but wind farms located near civilian and military airports can also affect airplane safety.

It’s difficult to even comprehend why this is an issue.

Our servicemen and women deserve better. For that matter, every American should expect that their safety and security is being put ahead of clean-energy.


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