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Air Defense and Airspace Management Controls

written by: nostolgia•edited by: Jason C. Chavis•updated: 6/21/2010

What is air defense and airspace management? Why is it in place? What happens if it is crossed?

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    Air space management and air defense system

    What is meant by “Air Space Management”?

    Airspace users can interfere with each other if are freely allowed to use the air space. One way is to prevent this from happening is the “Air Space Management”, which draws clear boundaries for different air space users. It ensures safe flight of aircrafts. Airspace management include (1) ROZ (2) UAV blanket (3) Coordinating altitude.

    ROZ: It stands for Restricted Operation Zone. ROZ define airspace in 3 dimensions created for a typical mission. Unauthorized airspace user is not allowed to enter this area. This area is typically 2-3Km in diameter. Aircraft like drones, unmanned aeiral vehicles (UAV) and anti aircraft guns are used to protect ROZ from unauthorized airspace users.

    UAV blanket: UAV blanket defines a safe flying region for UAV and drones which are continuously safeguarding a country's airspace. Once this region is defined, the UAV and drone can safely fly without intercepting other airliners and commercial plane. Height of this region is a bit higher than the coordinating altitude. It is measured in term of MSL i.e. Mean Sea Level.

    Federal Aviation Authority

    The Federal Aviation Authority (FAA) is an organization which is responsible for air space management and air traffic control in a country.

    What is an Air Defense System?

    Air defense and airspace management includes all the necessary actions and remedies required to fully or partially reduce the effectiveness of an enemy country's air attack. A typical air defense system contains:

    • Air and ground based weapons.
    • Sensor system to detect enemy motion distantly.
    • Control system to react against enemy attack.

    Air defense systems safeguards the armed forces and geographical area of a country. Ground-based defense systems are used to keep the country's airspace shielded from enemies. Both operate under the same command and control system. Air defense systems scan the country's airspace and are used effectively in the case of enemy violations. Targets such as enemy missiles normally move in 3 dimensions through air space which mean there will be motion in all 3 axises i.e. x, y and z. To intercept such targets, the future position of the target is calculated by an automatic computerized system and an anti-missile is launched against it.

    During the 20th century, air defense systems made rapid progress in the field of radar systems, remote sensing and detection, guided missile and aircraft.

    Air defense System Fields

    Fields that generally strengthen the country air defense system are categorized as;

    • Sensor and remote detection system, to scan for enemy aircraft and missile.
    • Firing control system.
    • Command and control system.
    • Barrage balloons, to prevent the aircraft to fly below the balloon height.
    • Search lights, earlier they were used similar to radar to illuminate the enemy aircraft.
    • Smoke to deceive the enemy in targeting.

    The radar systems used in early air defense systems were optical and acoustic based. Now they are using the latest technology like microwaves and opto-electronics. One of the challenging jobs for air defense systems is to distinguish between friendly and enemy aircraft. Certain rules and guideline are specially designed to cope with such situations. So when and how to use the weapons, the following rules must be followed.

    Weapon Free: If target is not positively identified, the weapons system is fired.

    Weapons Hold: Weapons can be fired for self defense.

    Weapons Tight: When the target is clearly hostile, the weapon is fired.

    Summary & Conclusions

    • Airspace management allows a country to utilize its airspace effectively and efficiently for air traffic.
    • Every country has a defined airspace; its violation is just like crossing the physical border of that country.
    • In the case of a violation of this airspace, a country reserves the right to strongly react against it. This is called Air Defense.