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Category: News - Briefs Created: 11/19/2001 05:33 PM
URL(s):  Updated: 11/11/2002 11:16 PM
OV-10 Used to Protect Space Shuttle
Bronco circles Shuttle Endeavor during rollout
By Mike Whaley
NASA has been using an OV-10 to provide security around the Space Shuttle launch pad. As reported by Steven Siceloff of the Florida Today newspaper in a story on both the Florida Today and Space.Com websites, two F-15 fighters flew air cover to protect the rollout of the Space Shuttle Endeavor on October 31. An OV-10 Bronco was seen in a familiar role - the report stated that "An OV-10 light observation aircraft flew lazy circles around Endeavour during most of the shuttle's six-hour move." Airspace security near the Space Center been extensively tightened since September 11th - the F-15s have been on-station over the shuttle ever since the rollout, an AH-64 Apache gunship guarded the astronauts when they arrived for a practice countdown, and there are restrictions on aviation throughout the entire northern half of Brevard County.

Though NASA does have OV-10s based in Virginia and Ohio, Mr. Siceloff has confirmed for OV-10Bronco.Net that this aircraft was an OV-10D+ owned by the State Department, operating out of their OV-10 maintenance base at nearby Patrick AFB. These aircraft have enhanced infrared gear installed and are primarily tasked with anti-narcotics spraying duties in South America. Patrick AFB, which is located just south of Cocoa Beach and within sight of the Cape, was also the location of the USAF/USMC's joint OV-10 training program in the 1980s and is now the main air support base for USAF and NASA launches from Cape Canaveral. There's a reasonable chance that these OV-10s will become a regular fixture around the Space Center. We'll report any additional information as it becomes available.

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