The inordinate number of false alarms in NORADs system edited images from Zeus Box (Kuswanto), CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons and Thesevenseas, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons
Another year and another chance for NORAD to test their early warning system coverage and detection capability against the worlds longest range strategic aircraft, Santa’s sleigh. Unfortunately for the Department of Defenses one opportunity to teach the young children about Air Defense, the long developed Santa Tracker system has become plagued with a head ache inducing amount of false alarms!
“We should have tested the system earlier,” said Major General John Bordelon pictured below. “Last year, the system worked flawlessly as usual. Particularly with the low amount of air traffic last year, 2020 was the systems best Christmas since we had Reagan funding! Little did we know that Santa Icons and alerts would be popping up all across the world as soon as we turned on the tracker. We have our top engineers and over paid contractors working on the issue and we hope to have the kinks worked out by Christmas Eve for the big show. If I don’t, I can kiss my third star goodbye!”
Early analysis has shown the culprit is none other than the Boeing 737 Max. As provided for the public’s education, the radar return of Santa’s sleigh has a uniquely strong radar signature. Boeing’s new plane is so large that its radar return looks exactly like a bunch of reindeer and a wooden sled covered in high return tinsel and bells. An alternative hypothesis is that Boeing stole intellectual property from the North Pole Aerospace Technology Institute. We may never know.
“I’ve been running this system for decades. We normally never have this false alarm rate problem because we can tune our detection threshold so high,” NORAD radar engineer Fred Gilliard explained. “Tinsel and sleigh bells have a particularly high Radar Cross Section (RCS) return for our system of ground to air radars. We’ve had some problems in the past when the tinsel falls off and acts as chaff which has thrown off our reindeer motion model trackers but that only lasts a few minutes before the system corrects itself. That dang 737 is so huge that they practically have the same RCS signature.” While most commercial planes are around 100m2 decibel square meters (dBsm), as seen in the figure below, both the 737 and Santa’s sleigh can be as high as 200!
Once again, Boeing has ruined everything. It’s the day of the big event and the engineers have a limited amount of time to design, test, and implement a new filter to take out all of the 737s before Santa begins delivering gifts to Australia and East Asia. If this all important resource isn’t working by the time Santa arrives in the Middle East, many experts believe all of the children of Palestine won’t get presents due to the fear of Santa getting shot down by Israel’s Iron Dome for being confused as a Hezbollan rocket. We can only hope that these radar engineers can filter out the 737 RCS before Christmas is Canceled again!
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