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            Army to simulate chem-bio attack near Key West



            Associated Press

            Army Times

            Abril 12, 2002





            Army researchers are planning to simulate a biological and chemical

            attack off the coast here to determine if weather radar systems can

            detect weapons agents dispersed by crop-dusters.

            During the four-day test scheduled to begin Monday, a small plane

            will release harmless agents, similar in composition to biological

            and chemical weapons, above the Gulf of Mexico, between six and 13

            miles off Key West.

            Army engineers want to know if the long-range radars used for

            weather forecasts can distinguish between rain clouds and weapons

            like anthrax, which could be released into the air.

            “What we hope to gain from this is to basically provide the country

            with a chemical and biological detection umbrella across the U.S.,”

            said Maj. Vince Johnston, deputy product manager for the Army’s

            Nuclear, Biological, and Chemical Point Detection Systems.

            If this test is successful, the Army could possibly have the

            detection network running in 18 to 24 months, Johnston told The

            Miami Herald.

            The $400,000 test is being conducted in consultation with a host of

            federal, state, and local agencies, he said.

            The experiment will gauge the capabilities of four different radars,

            including a National Weather Service Doppler radar controlled from

            Key West, and an Aerostat Radar System operated by the U.S. Air

            Force and mounted in blimps that hover off Cudjoe Key.

            “It’s one potential threat where somebody could fly a plane off in

            international waters and try to disseminate this stuff,” Johnston

            said. “This gives us a chance to find out what happens over water.”

            The Army will delay the experiment next week if winds are not moving

            away from Key West, Johnston said.

            Several months ago, the Army conducted a similar detection test over

            land with a Doppler radar system currently used by the Special

            Forces for ground surveillance. The success of that experiment led

            the Pentagon to accelerate plans to test a civilian Doppler over

            water, Johnston said.

            He said a system that flags biological and chemical attacks could be

            used without disrupting current weather forecasting operations.







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