The Acronym That Wasn't

Regarding PAVE, I can relate is a story from a USAF LtCol whom I knew when I was working in Washington DC in the '80s. He worked in the Pentagon at the time, and told me the USAF realized that many of the then-current code names practically gave away the essence of otherwise classified projects. So, someone ("they") decided to create code words which were essentially meaningless, PAVE being one of them.

Thus we have PAVE LOW, PAVE KNIFE, and others, like COBRA DANE and HAVE whatever. Somewhere in bowels of the Puzzle Palace PAVE may have originally been given a meaning but, if it has, it was entirely unofficial (and probably semi-obscene).

In short, PAVE originally really wasn't an acronym, but just a word.

For what it's worth, these acronyms were gleaned from the Internet and are presented here with an educated guess as to their utility (— Jim Bohannan):

BIG  (USAF recon projects / missions ?)

BLACK  (USAF intelligence-gathering projects ?)

BLUE  (USAF special electronics missions ?)


CHALK  (USN programs ?)

CLASSIC  (USN surveillance / C3I programs ?)

COBRA  (Telemetry intelligence / surveillance of missile tests ?)

COLD  (USAF high-altitude missions ?)

COMBAT  (USAF evaluation of new hardware, test missions ?)

COMMANDO  (USAF special operations ?)

COMPASS  (USAF drone/RPV and SIGINT/ECM programs ?)

CONSTANT  (USAF development projects / deployments ?)

COPPER  (USAF advanced technology studies ?)

CORONET  (USAF electronic surveillance and deployments ?)

CREEK (USAF deployments ?)

-EYE  (Weapons developed by Naval Weapons Center, China Lake CA)

GIANT  (USAF SAC missions and projects ?)

HAVE  (DARPA/ARPA or Systems Command (Materiel Command) programs ?)

IRON  (USAF anti-missile programs ?)

OLYMPIC  (USAF recon / surveillance missions ?)

OUTLAW  (USN surveillance / C3I programs ?)

PACER  (USAF modification and upgrade programs ?)

PAVE  ("Precision Avionics Vectoring Equipment" (after the fact))

PEACE  (US DoD Foreign Military Sales / MAP programs ?)

PRAIRIE  (USN Intelligence / SIGINT programs ?)

QUICK  (US Army recon / SIGINT / ECM projects ?)

RETRACT  (US Navy programs ?)

RIVET  (USAF electronic intelligence-gathering aircraft ?)

SENIOR  (USAF recon or stealth related aircraft / systems ?)

SILVER  (USAF ELINT missions ?)

TEAL  (Surveillance programs ?)

TRACTOR  (US Army programs ?)

VOLANT  (C-130 Hercules special missions ?)

Evidence indicates that TEAL was used by DARPA for developmental programs that, when successful, were transitioned to a service and given a different name.

HAVE seems to, er, have been USAF Systems Command. Since the old FTD (today's NAIC, unless they've changed the name again) was under Systems Command, a lot of USAF technical intelligence programs were HAVE.

One I came across in the course of my career that seems to be not well known was CLUSTER, which was used for Navy technical intelligence stuff. CLUSTER FOBIA was my favorite... (— Allen Thomson 4/3/04)