Area 58

Area 58 is a tract of land in Northern Virginia in the eastern United States. Hidden at the north-western edge of Fort Belvoir, behind a sign labeled DCEETA, on a separate entrance off of Telegraph Road[http://en. .org/wiki/State_Route_611_(Fairfax_County,_Virginia)], is a large windowless building, one of the most secretive places in the world. The enclave's primary purpose is to support downloading, development, and transfer of satellite intelligence.

The base lies within the Fort Belvoir north post. The facility is managed by the National Reconnaissance Office, along with NIMA, now renamed the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency. Perimeter security is provided by black-uniformed security guards working separate from Fort Belvoir security.

The facility resembles Menwith Hill in the U.K. Other names used for the facility include The Ground Station, The Mission Ground Site, or the cover name DCEETA.

The intense secrecy surrounding the base, the very existence of which the U.S. government barely acknowledges, has allowed it to hide in plain sight.

Geography

The satellite map. of Area 58, (38d44m10s N, 77d09m30s W) shows the large building, parking garage, and radomes. The facility lies in a shallow stream valley, shielded from public view by hills on the perimeter, and trees.

The perimeter patrol roads show on the map as McCracken Road, Winslow Road, and interior access road Ft. Belvoir Road. The sensor imbedded perimeter fence and jersey barrier keep out intruders.

Woodlawn Road which provided a vantage point for the Area 58 viewshed was seized; however, the facility still remains visible from the Fort Belvoir golf course.

Operations

"KH-11s, also known by the Byeman code name Kennan, or as satellites in the 5500 series, send their real-time imagery up to other satellites including the high flying SDS (Satellite Data System) platforms (a relay method that complicates Soviet attempts to intercept the data), which, in turn, downlink it to the ambiguously named Defense Communications, Electronic Evaluation and Testing Activity, a large windowless two story concrete structure at Fort Belvoir, Virginia, just outside of Washington, D.C."

"While the Fort Belvoir site was the only downlink for the KH-11, additional sites were
added — apparently in Hawaii and Europe"..."In contrast, the signals from the LACROSSE/VEGA system are relayed via NASA's Tracking and Data Relay Satellites (TDRS), of which there are three in orbit. The signals are then transmitted to a ground station at White Sands, New Mexico.
In the future, a joint military-civilian National Space Communications System may handle relay of intelligence, military, and civilian communications."

When completed the facility provided the means to download and distribute satellite intelligence from Quasar, Keyhole, Lacrosse[http://en. .org/wiki/Lacrosse_(satellite)], KH-12, and KH-13 satellites.

"According to sources, DDS, , routes imagery through DISA's ATM switch at Ft. Belvoir. From the ATM switch, the intelligence products are loaded into a "pipe," like the Defense Satellite Communication System," through which they are delivered to the various warfighting commands."..."At the same time, NIMA was also having trouble with its National Exploitation System. NES, also a classified system, supports a "collaborative community exploitation environment, providing products to consumers in a timely manner". Current plans call for NES to migrate in 2001 to the Exploitation Support System, which will be the intelligence community's common imagery exploitation unit."

History

After Jimmy Carter's inauguration (January 20, 1977), satellite photographs were hand delivered that had been downloaded at Area 58.

Area 58 construction began in earnest in the late 1970s.

The facility continued to grow.

A parking garage was added, and is now planned to be enlarged now that overflow parking fills the seized Woodlawn road.

8 million dollars was spent in 1999, to realign Beulah Road, and use Old Beulah Road (Southeast of Telegraph Road) as the entrance of the facility.

In Spring 2004, a secure water tank, and fuel farm were constructed.

In 2005, a remote delivery facility was added.

U.S. government's positions on Area 58

The U.S. Government has recently reiterated the classification the location of Area 58. The base is conspicuously absent from Federal publications.

The extensive article by John Pike at the Federation of American Scientists was suppressed, as demonstrated by the broken links of press accounts from Y2K. Mr. Pike left FAS and started his own group GlobalSecurity.

Apparently, this was another example of the U.S. reclassification program, as occurred at the National Archives and Records Administration.

However, the Russian language essay was not suppressed., 2 published books remain unsuppressed, and numerous open source intelligence references remain.

After September 11, 2001, Woodlawn Road, and a part of Beulah Road, State Routes 618 and 613[http://en. .org/wiki/Virginia_State_Route_613_(Fairfax_County)], were closed to civilian traffic, without due process of law, with much controversy.



Comments (2)
1. 29-01-2009 19:15
 
check out my blog with the footnotes for the article.  
 
http://area58-dogue.blogspot.com/
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2. 05-10-2009 22:20
 
Would like more in formation on area 58
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