The Navy’s Flying Fax Machine: Way Back to the Future

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The cutting-edge U.S. Navy – all lasers, missile defenses and EMALS – is checking out airborne fax machines. What’s next – 8-tracks playing the Top Gun theme? This is from a Tuesday contract inquiry:

Some pretty peculiar requirements here:

“TEMPEST certified”? That means it can’t emit anything that a crafty spy might be able to intercept. TEMPEST, a U.S. government designation, isn’t an acronym, but some Battleland pals say it stands for Tiny ElectroMagnetic Particles Emitting Secret Things.

Certified for a “generic helicopter environment”?

And able to operate at altitudes of up to 10,000 feet – while “certified for…storage for transportation at altitudes of up to 50,000 ft.”?

Hmmm…the Air Force routinely crates up Marine One, the President’s helicopter (whose procurement is done by the Navy), and ships it aboard huge C-17 or C-5 aircraft if the commander-in-chief is going to need it during an overseas trip. You may remember the Pentagon planned to buy a new set of Marine Ones, but were forced to cancel the program when it got too costly. Now a new competition is underway.

“Market research is being conducted to find solutions,” a Navy contracting officer says. “Currently there is no requirement to procure.” He didn’t respond to Battleland’s hunch that perhaps such fax machines, if they’re ever bought, are bound for Marine One. (Military fax machines are a long-time interest of Battleland’s).