GWEN Ground Wave Emergency Network
The Ground Wave Emergency Network (GWEN) provides survivable connectivity
to designated bomber and tanker bases. The system is in sustainment. GWEN is designed as an ultra-high powered VLF [150-175 kHz] network intended to survive
massive broadband destructive interference produced by nuclear EMP, and
recovering quickly from the changes imposed on radiowave propagation by EMP-ion
damage to the upper atmosphere. A large number of the 200 GWEN relay
nodes can be destroyed without compromising the overall effectiveness of the system.
GWEN antennae include an 8km trailing long-wire winched out of WWABNCP, and the DARPA /Westinghouse 750-6000m tether Aerostat-Augmented balloon. The GWEN system includes
299-foot, low-frequency (LF) antenna and an ultrahigh-frequency (UHF) antenna located at each relay node (RN) station, and a UHF antenna located at each input/output (I/O) station.
Although GWEN was designed to provide survivable connectivity for time-critical force survival actions, the configuration does not meet required availability or reliability.
As portable Milstar terminals become available in the l997-l998 time frame, STRATCOM will phase out the Ground Wave Emergency Network, which is the only survivable link to ensure launch of ground-alert aircraft. GWEN is Scheduled to be Replaced by SCAMP in FY99, but CINC STRAT has maintained that GWEN can not be shut down until the replacement system is fielded, operational, and certified. If SCAMP does not meet schedule, GWEN may have to be operational past the year 2000.
The Federal Railroad Administration, concerned with the importance of the inland
navigation systems to support railroad real time positioning activities, has suggested that GWEN sites be included in the developing of inland navigation systems. The Federal Highway Administration has agreed to continue to investigate the utilization of the 54 GWEN sites for inland navigation.