Skip to comments.Obama’s LORAN Problem
Posted on 06/24/2009 8:17:23 AM PDT by pabianice
President Obama has a numbers problem. More precisely, he has shown an unwillingness to acknowledge facts when they conflict with his clear intention of turning the United States into 1980s France. We all know how that turned out.
Lets take one good example. Obama wants to shut-down LORAN. LORAN LOng RAnge Navigation was developed after World War II, based upon a simpler system GEE invented by the British. Without boring the reader, let me say simply that it is a robust, world-wide, proven system of ground stations, run by the US Coast Guard, that give vehicles equipped with LORAN receivers a fix a known position at a certain time, which is critical to navigation. A full explanation is here. A sample of a LORAN chart this one for waters off New York is here. As a retired Naval Flight Officer I used LORAN for my entire career in guiding P-3 aircraft around the world.
Obama wants to shut-down this vital system to save .0002% of the national budget through 2015. I kid you not.
The alleged reason to shut-down LORAN is the advent of GPS the Global Positioning System most people know through their in-car navigators. GPS receivers are complemented with microcomputers to give the driver, mariner, or flier a moving map of the vehicles position, a time to destination calculation, and other handy features. So does LORAN. In fact, many have recommended that LORAN be the primary back-up for GPS to ensure a national navigation system that is nearly fool-proof. You see, GPS has a number of problems. It is based upon a constellation of 24 satellites in orbit, vs. LORANs system of ground stations. As we have seen on TV, repairing a satellite in orbit is a bit of a project. GPS uses low-power microwave signals, which are not receivable in bad weather. LORAN uses low frequency signals at high power which blast through almost any interference. A 2007 report from the government of the United Kingdom concluded that electronic navigation based on GPS or the European Galileo system is unlikely to be robust or reliable enough to withstand intentional jamming or unintentional interference. It recommends developing eLoran (enhanced LORAN, http://satellitenavigation.wordpress.com/eloran-resources/) as an insurance policy against the potentially massive impacts of a terrorist or criminal jamming attack." The accuracy of eLORAN has been shown to equal that of GPS both give a fix to within 30 feet. Per the NTSBs 2006 report, just in the U.S., there are 12.7 million pleasure and commercial boats, another 286 passenger ocean-liners, 224,352 general aviation aircraft, and 8,225 air carrier airplanes. If just one in four are using LORAN, and, as Obama claims, LORAN is costing the government $ 38 million a year, the cost of providing fixing information per vehicle is less than a penny a day. Not a bad deal.
Yet, Obama wants to end LORAN, despite the facts that the nations sea and air fleets depend upon it, that it is far more reliable than GPS, and that the savings are meaningless in the face of the benefits to be lost. Congress, to its credit, is moving to save LORAN despite the White Houses blind intentions. The short truth is that the only winners in a LORAN shut-down would be manufacturers of GPS units. Losers would number in the millions of people deprived of the system.
Ending LORAN would simply be one more counter-productive move by an Administration that is proving it moves on the basis of ideology rather than reality.
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loran has been dead for years. no, its not anywhere as good as gps. put a bullett in it and move on.
my experience is maritime only.
in this case obama is right.
Back up systems are "smart". It's called wisdom!!
Especially when, in the case of GPS satellites, the orbit is 10,000 miles up.
LORAN has been obsolete for AT LEAST 15 years. As a matter of fact it hasn't been in service in North America for AT LEAST that long.
Much ado about nothing. I mean really. Save the ammo against Obamunism for things that matter
My bro still knows how to use his sextant. The idea that no one takes or knows how to take star shots is absurd.
OMEGA is gone. Used it on the P-3B TACNAVMOD. Not a good system. The INS consistently gave a better DR than OMEGA gave a fix. And there are still some of us who know how to use a sextant. 8*)
Wrong. Many aircraft have LORAN receivers. I teach flying and have used many on different aircraft. It works just fine and is accurate to within 100 feet. ELORAN will narrow that to 30 feet.
Also wrong. There are 74 LORAN stations working world-wide.
Like I said turned over to loal governments.
OK so a few people still can use a sextant. Not that many though. Yhe Coast Guard doesn’t even require celestial navigation for it’s officer training.
>> Many aircraft have LORAN receivers
What? Where? Haven’t seen one since the early ‘70s.
(17,000 hours total time - DC-3/6/7/8, L-049 through B-707/720/727/737/747/757/767.)
LORAN is NOT as accurate as GPS.
Such a claim is spurious.
I understand that the author is of the opinion that we should keep LORAN, but he goes too far.
I’ve gotten clear GPS signals in all kinds of situations at sea - it takes more than just bad weather to interrupt reception.
However, there are a good many leisure and commercial vessels who still use LORAN. That is, to me, the most compelling argument to keep the system.
Also, it is certainly an acceptable backup to GPS in the event of a system failure. A local system failure is much more likely than a GPS system failure - antennas go out, receivers achieve their life expectancy, coffee gets spilled in the wrong place... In such a situation most sailors (and airmen for that matter), sadly, are not sufficiently trained in the arts of dead reckoning and visual navigation to get their vessel home safely.
I disagree with this President almost all of the time - but something tells me that he didn’t personally sit down and come up with this proposed cut to the budget. I am curious to hear the take of the USCG Commandant on this proposal, as well as Commanders of 2nd and 3rd Fleet. Their opinions will carry much more weight that anything coming out of the WH, or from a personal blog for that matter.
Anyone else find it ironic that the poster/author uses a screen name with “GPS”? Maybe it’s just me...
One other thought - everyone likes to show how small their little piece of the pie is when discussing budget cuts (.0002% in this case). Most people seem to agree we need to spend less, but no-one wants anything cut from things that interest or benefit them personally. I imagine that if all of these ‘little’ things that are ‘insignificant’ in terms of the overall budget were added up, we might actually be discussing some real money...
Among the 225,000 GA aircraft. I see one in every 3rd or 4th aircraft.
LORAN is still used in Alaska, which is part of North America the last time I checked, and is operated by the US Coast Guard. I had the occasion a couple of times to repair the copier in the Tok LORAN station and the tech there may be a bit old school but still fascinating, especially the small room where the 700 megawatt LF signal is divided to the antenna system. The coastie waved a flourescent tube around which lit up without any connection to the wall.
Plenty of mariners and pilots still use and trust LORAN, as a safety backup I’d think it would be smart to keep it going, given the modest savings realised by shutting it down. Not to mention the cost to users of making expensive LORAn based navigation aids suddenly useless.
how much are the vouchers gonna cost for everyone using LORAN to go get digital GPS converter boxes?
"Do Not Use This Unit As Your Primary Means Of Navigation"
>> [I see LORAN in] GA aircraft. I see one in every 3rd or 4th aircraft.
Well, OK - in OLDER GA aircraft that haven’t bothered to upgrade to GPS. Admitted, the LORAN south central chain works OK here (Denver) - about a 1/2-mile accuracy - OK for “point A to point B” navigation, but not for instrument approaches.
Admitted, the installation is simple, it doesn’t draw a lot of current, and the 16 kHz. signal gets picked up by a nice little voltage probe antenna.
That having been said, you can do the same thing with a $100 handheld Garmin GPS on the glareshield (that’s what I use in my ASW-19 sailplane).
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