Back last February, it was reported that FEMA/Department of Homeland Security was mysteriously constructing prepackaged AM transmitter buildings at various PEP (Primary Entry Point) transmitter sites across the country as something call “Primary Entry Point Expansion.” These buildings contain a 5 KW Nautel AM transmitter, EAS gear, satellite equipment (the exact equipment list is undisclosed), and a backup generator all in a shielded (Faraday Cage), prefabricated building placed inside a fenced-in compound at the station’s transmitter site. The buildings are being put in place, but not connected to anything in the outside world. They are planning to have about 80 (the number keeps increasing) of these structures in place by when the project is completed in mid-2013.
Why, inquiring minds want to know, would they do that?
The new buildings and equipment are, of course, not provided to the government for free. I would estimate each unit costs at least $200,000 based on the following:
- A new solid-state 5 KW AM transmitter costs $50-55K
- A new 35 KW generator costs $23K
- A new, shielded communications structure costs $70-85K
- Misc racks, equipment, wiring, shipping, installation costs, fuel tanks, fencing, etc $40K
The rationale for this current wave of government spending, as reported in several industry periodicals, is simply a matter of supplying in-depth backup facilities in accordance with Executive Order 13407. The design of the structure and manner of installation seems to indicate the primary concern of FEMA is some type of Electromagnetic Pulse (EMP). If an EMP were to happen and it took out the station’s main transmitters, these could be connected to the existing antenna system and switched on. They would provide emergency programming and interface directly with FEMA’s IPAWS (Integrated Public Alert and Warning System).
The interesting thing about this is that there is a coincidence with the upswing of solar cycle 24. Back in 2008, likely when this project was likely first dreamed up, the predictions were for a great number of sunspots in this cycle. That has not happened and in fact, this cycle is now predicted to be the weakest solar cycle since 1823. Even weak sunspot cycles can create problems, but does that warrant supplying 80 backup transmitters, generators, fuel tanks, and buildings to various AM broadcasting stations throughout the country? Further, solar flares and Coronal Mass Ejections (CME) are fairly slow-moving events, the sun is well monitored; alerts would be issued and precautions are taken.
One other thing to consider: HEMP (High altitude Electromagnetic Pulse from a nuclear air burst). AM transmitters are more robust when it comes to HEMP than FM transmitters. This is because of their modulation type and frequency of operation. A 5 KW AM transmitter can withstand RF voltages six or eight times its nameplate carrier rating. Tube-type transmitters are even more robust than solid state. The FM broadcast band falls right in the middle of the HEMP fast pulse frequency (72-225 MHz), which will likely resonate in the tuning circuits of the transmitter exposed to it and destroy all of the active devices. Not so with AM transmitters.
A HEMP event would cause catastrophic damage to the electrical grid across wide areas of the continent (see also; Starfish Prime). The voltages instantaneously induced on computer circuit boards and power supplies would be so high, they would likely burst into flames if they were close enough to the detonation. The same for almost all other electronic devices with circuit boards. It would set the country back one hundred or more years, technologically, causing massive disruptions in the food supply chain. Such an act would surely be met with massive nuclear retaliation by the US. The military has not only hardened all of its communications and command facilities, but they have also undergone rigorous EMP testing, finding and fixing design flaws. Thus, the US military’s capacity to wage war would continue undiminished after a HEMP event, a fact that all other members of the nuclear club are surely aware of.