Tuesday, May 05, 2015

North Atlantic (NAT) MWARA Profile and Frequencies

Our good friend Tony Roper posted the following list of North Atlantic (NAT) Major World Air Route Area (MWARA) frequencies on the UDXF list. I have added some additional material from my personal files and monitoring to round out this profile. If you are a military monitor, these frequencies are a great playground in the HF spectrum to catch possible mil aircraft activity. All frequencies are in kHz and mode is USB.

HF Aeronautical Frequencies

NAT Family A: Used by all aircraft flying the Southern NAT Routes. Assigned to aircraft flying routes with reporting coordinates between 43° North and 47° North.
Ground Stations: Gander, New York, Santa Marie, Shanwick

3016.0 kHz 0100-0900 and 1800-2200 UTC
5598.0 kHz H24
8906.0 kHz 0900-2100 UTC
13306.0 kHz HO

NAT Family B: Assigned to aircraft flying routes with reporting coordinates between 47° North and 64° North. Ground Stations: Gander, Iceland, Shanwick

2899.0 kHz 0000-0900 and 1800-2400 UTC
5616.0 kHz H24
8864.0 kHz 0900-2100 UTC
13291.0 kHz HO
17946.0 kHz HO

NAT Family C: Assigned to aircraft flying routes with reporting coordinates between 47° North and 64° North. Ground Stations: Gander, Iceland, Shanwick

2872.0 kHz 0000-0900 and 1800-2400 UTC
5649.0 kHz H24
8879.0 kHz 0900-2100 UTC
11336.0 kHz HO
13306.0 kHz HO
17946.0 kHz HO

NAT Family D: Assigned to aircraft flying routes with reporting coordinates north of 62° North. Ground Stations: Bodo, Gander, Iceland, Shanwick, Arctic Radio (not a NAT station)

2971.0 kHz 0100-0800 UTC
4675.0 kHz 0100-0800 and 1100-1800 UTC
8891.0 kHz HO
11279.0 kHz HO
17946.0 kHz HO

NAT Family E: Assigned on a tactical basis and coordinated between New York Radio and Santa Marie Radio.

2962.0 kHz 0100-0800 UTC
6628.0 kHz 0000-1900 UTC
8825.0 kHz 0000-1900 and 2300-2400 UTC
11309.0 kHz 0900-1900 UTC
13354.0 kHz 1100-1900 UTC
17946.0 kHz HO

NAT Family F: Assigned on a tactical basis and coordinated between Shanwick Radio and Gander Radio.

3476.0 kHz 0100-0800 UTC
6622.0 kHz 1000-1800 UTC
8831.0 kHz 1000-1800 UTC
13291.0 kHz HO
17946.0 kHz HO

Starting April 22, 2013, the following additional Regional and Domestic Air Route Area (RDARA) HF frequencies  (NAT H/I/J) will be used on a tactical basis by Shanwick Radio, adjoining NARTEL Radio Stations and domestic ATC agencies. These frequencies are used individually or by common network agreement between the NAT aeronautical stations.

NAT Family H: Used on a tactical basis and coordinated between Shanwick Radio, adjoining NARTEL Radio Stations and domestic ATC agencies.

2965.0 kHz HO
3491.0 kHz HO
5583.0 kHz HO
6556.0 kHz HO
6667.0 kHz HO
10021.0 kHz HO
10036.0 kHz HO
11363.0 kHz HO

NAT Family I: Used on a tactical basis and coordinated between Shanwick Radio,
adjoining NARTEL Radio Stations and domestic ATC agencies.

2860.0 kHz HO
2881.0 kHz HO
2890.0 kHz HO
3458.0 kHz HO
3473.0 kHz HO
3488.0 kHz HO
5484.0 kHz HO
5568.0 kHz HO
6550.0 kHz HO
6595.0 kHz HO
10066.0 kHz HO

NAT Family J: Used on a tactical basis and coordinated between Shanwick Radio, adjoining NARTEL Radio Stations and domestic ATC agencies.

2869.0 kHz HO
2944.0 kHz HO
2992.0 kHz HO
3446.0 kHz HO
3473.0 kHz HO
4651.0 kHz HO
4666.0 kHz HO
4684.0 kHz HO
5460.0 kHz HO
5481.0 kHz HO
5559.0 kHz HO
5577.0 kHz HO
6547.0 kHz HO
8954.0 kHz HO
11276.0 kHz HO

After April 22, 2013, the historical practice of assigning aircraft registered west of 30° west HF Family 'B' frequencies and east of 30° west HF Family 'C' frequencies, no longer applies.  NAT HF Family 'B' and 'C' frequencies are assigned to aircraft flying routes with reporting co-ordinates between 47° North and 64° North.

Search and Rescue (SAR) - Operated as required

2182.0 kHz HO
3023.0 kHz HO
5680.0 kHz HO

Hours of service of individual frequencies, or groups of frequencies, may vary as HF propagation conditions or operational requirements demand.

VHF Aircraft Frequencies

123.450 MHz H24 - VHF air to air frequency enables aircraft engaged in flights over remote and oceanic areas, out of range of VHF ground stations, to exchange necessary operational information and to facilitate the resolution of operational problems.
122.375 MHz - Gander

123.950 MHz H24 - For use by aircraft registered in States west of 030° West for requesting Oceanic clearance direct from OAC.

124.175 MHz H24

126.550 MHz - Reykjavik

126.900 MHz - Churchill, Gander, Goose, Iqaluit, Montreal/Pierre Elliott Trudeau, Winnipeg

127.100 MHz - Gander
127.650 MHz H24 - For use by aircraft registered in States east of 030° West for requesting Oceanic clearance direct from OAC. For this purpose Australia is regarded as being east of 030° West.

127.850 MHz - Reykjavik
127.900 MHz H24 - Gander, Santa Marie, Shanwick. Used when practicable by aircraft when east of 020° West to reduce loading on HF channels. Traffic received on this frequency is handled in exactly the same way as if received on HF.

129.900 MHz - New York


425002 - A/G Shanwick Radio H24 Irish Aviation Authority. Available for routine ATS messages via Shanwick Radio.

423201 - ATC Shanwick Oceanic H24 NATS Ltd.  Available for direct pilot/controller communications in emergency situations only

436623 - ATC New York Atlantic Flights H24

436625 - ATC San Francisco Pacific Flights H24

Thursday, April 30, 2015

The Spectrum Monitor Review of the International Call Sign Handbook, 4th Edition

Blog Editor Note: This is a review of my new e-book that appeared in the May edition of The Spectrum Monitor e-zine. The Spectrum Monitor ® is published monthly by Ken Reitz KS4ZR at 1403 Holland Creek Road, Louisa, Virginia 23093. You can order your subscription to TSM at http://www.thespectrummonitor.com/.

New International Call Sign Handbook: Government and Military EditionBy Larry Van Horn N5FPW
Teak Publishing $6.99
Fourth Edition Kindle e-book 608 pages
Reviewed by Ken Reitz KS4ZR

Anyone who had read Monitoring Times magazine over the last few decades will be familiar with the topic of government and military radio call signs that appeared every month in the Milcom column, written by Larry Van Horn N5FPW. While MT ceased publication with the December 2013 issue, Larry maintained his interest in this subject and has just released the massive fourth edition of the International Call Sign Handbook (Government/Military Edition).

And, if you’ve been reading Hugh Stegman and Mike Chace-Ortiz’s columns in TSM, you’ll know that there are hundreds of frequencies on which you might hear any of these call signs. You can’t tell the players without a scorecard and Larry’s just published the definitive call sign scorecard.

At more than 600 pages, he has left nothing out. And, if you are not familiar with this fascinating subject, he includes a thorough tutorial on the subject to bring you up to speed. Call signs for every branch of the US military, known and arcane federal agencies, and many nongovernmental organizations are also listed. He has also included international call signs for other countries.

You’ll also learn how to set up your listening post to be able to monitor Mode-S ADS/B, a data stream that is sent automatically by most civilian and military aircraft, that IDs each craft as it comes within communications reach of your receiver; a hobby within the air monitoring hobby. Larry includes active links to all the websites you’ll need to go to for software downloads and detailed instructions on tuning in.

It’s difficult to emphasize what a bargain this book is: $6.99 (that was the cost of one issue of Monitoring Times, if you could find it on the bookstore shelves!) for 600 pages of military and federal call signs (in its last year the entire MT magazine was only 62 pages each month and the Milcom column was only two pages each month!).
This book has an active Table of Contents that makes finding your way around in this enormous publication a breeze.

The International Call Sign Handbook is available only as a Kindle e-publication, but you don’t need a Kindle product, iPad, or smartphone to read this publication. Any desktop or laptop computer can display any Kindle e-book. Just download the free app for your device, order the book and start reading. Go here to find out more about Kindle apps: https://www.amazon.com/gp/digital/fiona/kcp-landing-page?ie=UTF8&ref_=kcp_pc_mkt_lnd

Go here to buy or read a sample of this book: http://www.amazon.com/International-Call-Sign-Handbook-Government-ebook/dp/B00VV7NR1U/ref=zg_bs_tab_pd_bsnr_2

And, while you’re at it, check out the other publications released recently by Teak Publishing (also found on the TSM Bookshelf):

Teak Publishing 2015 Air Show Guide (By Larry Van Horn)
International Shortwave Broadcast Guide (By Gayle Van Horn)

QSLing the World (By Gayle Van Horn)
And, don’t forget Larry and Gayle’s excellent blogs for up to date information on shortwave listening and military communications:

Milcom Monitoring Post http://mt-milcom.blogspot.com and Shortwave Central http://mt-shortwave.blogspot.com

Saturday, April 25, 2015

International Call Sign Handbook e-book now available at Amazon

The reviews are in and the International Call Sign Handbook is a huge hit.

5 Star Rating 100% rating on the deal of the century! By Barry L. Williams
After 20 years of reading the columns, reviews, and advice of Larry van Horn in Monitoring Times magazine, it was a no brainer that he is an expert on military/civilian communications on shortwave and high frequency radio. He has always been the go-to expert for what military and civilian radio calls you were hearing on the HF/SW frequencies. Now, the decades of experience and research is in his new book. It has an excellent table of contents itemized by service, country, etc. Each entry is clickable for navigation. And, the list is huge! This is the most complete list of units, boats, aircraft, units, etc that I've seen. It is also more than just a list as the book also explains the organizations and services with details and explanations.

The other great thing about this must have book is the price- $6.99. There is no reason for anyone to not have this book at that price. This is the first book with this much information that I've seen that doesn't cost $25 and up. There just is no reason to not buy it right now.  

5 Star Rating Updated classic By Hugh D Stegman, The Spectrum Monitore-zine columnist
You won't go wrong with this one. Larry is the go-to guy for this kind of information in the hobby, and his lists have always been full of names and call signs that you'll actually hear on the air, plus all manner of other arcane military codes and rotating IDs. I don't know how I'd identify most military stations without it. At this garage sale price, it may be the best deal in utility radio.
Ask any radio monitor what information they consider important during any monitoring session, and usually two items will top their list: frequencies and call signs. If you can hear activity on a particular frequency, unless you can fully identify the participants transmitting on that frequency, you can’t fully appreciate or document the traffic you are hearing.
With millions of radio stations furnishing a variety of communication services throughout the world, it is necessary that their transmissions carry distinctive call signs or identifiers. Call signs have a four-fold purpose: They may identify the nationality of the station, the agency operating a particular station, the type of station, and the identity of each individual station being heard on the monitored frequency.
The need for station identifications/call signs can easily be illustrated here in the United States, which leads all other countries in the use of the radio spectrum, that now has some 85 different kinds of radio services operated by the government, military and civilians entities, providing air, sea, land and space communication services. There are hundreds of thousands of stations on the air and call signs and other forms of identification help the radio monitor sort through the various stations that are heard.
A call sign is defined as any combination of alphanumeric characters or phonetically pronounceable characters (trigraph), which identifies a communications facility, a command, an authority, an activity or unit. To aid the radio monitor in their listening endeavors, the International Call Sign Handbook series of books/e-books has been published.
Teak Publishing is pleased to announce their latest Kindle e-book -- the fourth edition of International Call Sign Handbook by Amazon Bestselling author Larry Van Horn, N5FPW. This e-book represents the most comprehensive collection of military and government station identifications ever published for the radio listening hobby. It is the result of year’s research, study and monitoring the HF/VHF/UHF radio spectrum, by the author. Many different radio monitoring disciplines have been used to compile the listings in this book. If you monitor the HF, VHF or UHF radio spectrum, there is something in this book for you.
The information presented in this book has also been gathered through personal correspondence, material published in the former Monitoring Times magazine, various radio publications, newsletters, public domain government and private internet web sites, but most have been gathered the old fashioned way via on-the-air monitoring. In addition, we have received generous support and contributions from many individuals in the radio hobby.
In addition to international and military/government tactical call signs, other types of identifiers such as Automatic Link Establishment (ALE) and Mode-S aircraft addresses have been included in this e-book. There is a chapter that had basic introductory material, as well as chapters devoted to call sign / words used by the Department of Defense including the US. Air Force, U.S. Army, U.S. Navy and Marine Corps. There are sections that cover the various Military Auxiliary Radio Services and the U.S. Air Force Civil Air Patrol auxiliary service.
There is also a chapter that covers call signs and ALE identifiers for the U.S. Coast Guard service. Sections in that chapter include a Coast Guard aircraft fleet list, miscellaneous U.S. coast guard calls, and also their international call signs.
Another large chapter covers various U.S. Government call signs. Sections in this chapter include the U.S. Custom and Border Patrol COTHEN radio system and ALE address list, plus call signs from the following department and agencies - Department of Commerce (DOC), Department of Energy (DOE), Department of Homeland Security (DHS), Department of the Interior (DOI), Department of the Interior (DOI) Bureau of Indian Affairs, Department of Justice (DOJ), Department of State, Department of Transportation, Department of Veterans Affairs (DVA), Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), Environmental Protection Agency, Federal Aviation Administration, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Federal Communications Commission, Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), General Services Administration (GSA), Health and Human Services, Housing and Urban Development Department (HUD), Miscellaneous Listings, National Aeronautics and Space Administration, National Communications System (NCS), and U.S. Marshal Service (USMS) service.
One of the larger chapters is devoted to an international / worldwide call signs list. We have a sampling of government and military call signs from 75 counties and international agencies.
The latest craze in aircraft military is decoding Mode-S/ICAO24 radio signals and is included in this book. Our list in this edition covers primarily government / military aircraft and introductory material on Mode-S monitoring.
The last chapter of this book contains a large list of resource information, useful in interpreting the individual entries listed in the book. Sections on U.S. Navy ship/squadron classifications; U.S. Coast Guard cutter designators; a massive list of abbreviations and acronyms that appear in the book; a comprehensive country abbreviation list; and the latest Table of Allocations of International Call signs from the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) are included in the last chapter on the e-book.
The Teak Publishing 4th International Call Sign Handbook is now available for purchase worldwide from Amazon.com at http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00VV7NR1U.
The price for this e-Book edition is US$6.99. This book is being released internationally. Amazon customers in the United Kingdom, Germany, France Spain, Italy, Japan, India, Canada, Brazil, Mexico and Australia can order the e-Book from Amazon websites directly servicing these countries. All other countries can use the regular Amazon.com website.
You do not need to own a Kindle reader to read Amazon e-book publications. You can read any Kindle book with Amazon’s free reading apps. There are free Kindle reading apps for the Kindle Cloud Reader, Smartphones (iPhone, iTouch, Android, Windows Phone and Blackberry); computer platforms (Windows XP, Vista, 7 and 8 and Mac); Tablets (iPad, Android and Windows 8), and, of course, all of the Kindle family of readers including the Kindle Fire series. A Kindle e-book allows you to buy your book once and read it anywhere. You can find additional details on these apps at this link on the Amazon website at www.amazon.com/gp/feature.html?ie=UTF8&docId=1000493771.
For additional information on this and other Teak Publishing radio hobby books, monitor the company sponsored Internet blogs – The Military Monitoring Post (http://mt-milcom.blogspot.com/), The Btown Monitor Post (http://monitor-post.blogspot.com/) and The Shortwave Central (http://mt-shortwave.blogspot.com/) for availability of additional e-books that are currently in production.
Information on other publications by the author is available on the author’s page at Amazon http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B00G1QMO4C.

About the Author

Amazon bestselling author, Larry Van Horn, a native of San Antonio, Texas, started his radio listening hobby in 1964, when he received his first shortwave receiver.
In 1971 Larry joined the U.S. Navy and served on U.S. naval warships and in the naval aviation community until his retirement in 1993. He retired in New Orleans with the rank of Chief Petty Officer.
He was first licensed as an amateur radio operator in 1973 with the call sign WH6INU. Later, Larry upgraded to General Class and spent his early ham days operating out of the famed KH6SP ham shack in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, with his his ham mentor and friend Butch Weber, WA4GIF, chasing DX and contesting.
Now a licensed Extra Class ham, holding the call sign N5FPW, Larry enjoys operating digital modes, contesting and chasing DX. Other aspects of the radio hobby that he enjoys include monitoring military communications (throughout the radio spectrum), federal government monitoring, chasing HF utility communications, satellite monitoring, and AM, FM and TV broadcast DXing.
Larry worked for Grove Enterprises in Brasstown, North Carolina, the publisher of Monitoring Times and Satellite Times magazines. His job on the MT staff was the magazines assistant / technical editor and staff journalist. He wrote for Monitoring Times magazine as a freelance writer and full-time staffer for over 30 years until that publication closed in 2013. Larry was the creative force behind a new publication Satellite Times magazine, and was the magazine’s managing editor, a position he held for more than five years.
He has written dozens of radio equipment reviews and several monthly columns in the pages of the former Monitoring Times including the Signals from Space, Utility World, Fedcom – Federal Monitoring column, Milcom- a military monitoring column, GlobalNet, First Look/MT Equipment/Book Reviews. Service Search, Ask Larry, and the magazine’s Whats New column.
Over the years Larry has also written 10 radio hobby books (some with multiple editions), dozens of magazine features, and numerous technical articles for a wide variety of communications publications and radio hobby club newsletters.
He currently resides in western North Carolina, with his wife Gayle W4GVH. They have one son, Loyd W4LVH, who is married and lives in South Carolina.
Larry is the founder and president of the Teak Publishing Company based in western North Carolina. His first e-book published under the Teak Publishing banner, the North American Enroute Aviation Guide, was an immediate Amazon #1 Best Selling Kindle eBook.

Friday, April 24, 2015

Russia regains control of radio facility in Cuba's Lourdes base

This article originally appeared on the Sputnik News website on July 16. 2014.

Archive. Photo: RIA Novosti
Russia has retrieved the main Soviet radio interception facility – the signals intelligence center in Cuban Lourdes, the Kommersant newspaper wrote on Wednesday. "The decision to return to Cuba can be explained by Russia's long strengthened financial capabilities, as well as cooling of relations with the US," sources in the Russian power structures said.

The base on the territory of the USSR's and Russia's most consistent ally was built in 1962 and since then, has been repeatedly renewed, satisfying the need for interception of information from American communication satellites, ground-based telecommunications cables and wiretapping the NASA's Mission Control Center on Cape Canaveral. This is facilitated by its location in the Western part of the island, only 250 kilometers from Florida's coast.

In 2001, unexpectedly for the Cubans, Russia refused to use the center, which, according to the then Minister of Defense of Cuba Raul Castro, at the moment of the collapse of the USSR provided up to 75 percent of intelligence information.

The center was closed after Vladimir Putin visited it together with Fidel Castro in December, 2000, and while speaking to the staff stated "the importance of the facility for ensuring Russia's security, the need to support its activities and development prospects." But a year later, head of the Russian General Staff Anatoly Kvashnin made a statement that the center in Lourdes was not important, was costly, and its functions could be easily transferred to modern satellites.

Cubans were able to maintain the center, having created a scientific center on its basis. Since 2004, after the deterioration of relations with the US, Russia began to consider the possibility of returning to Cuba. The talks were sharply intensified at the beginning of this year and successfully completed during Putin's visit to Havana.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

US warship heads to Yemeni waters!

The Associated Press this morning is reporting that US Navy warships are headed for the waters off Yemen.

"In a stepped-up response to Iranian backing of Shiite rebels in Yemen, the Navy aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt is steaming toward the waters off Yemen to beef up security and join other American ships that are prepared to intercept any Iranian vessels carrying weapons to the Houthi rebels.

"Navy officials said Monday that the Roosevelt was moving through the Arabian Sea. A massive ship that carries F/A-18 fighter jets, the Roosevelt is seen more of a deterrent and show of force in the region.
"The U.S. Navy has been beefing up its presence in the Gulf of Aden and the southern Arabian Sea in response to reports that a convoy of about eight Iranian ships is heading toward Yemen and possibly carrying arms for the Houthis. Navy officials said there are about nine U.S. warships in the region, including cruisers and destroyers carrying teams that can board and search other vessels."
You can read the rest of this story at

Monday, April 13, 2015

NATO AWACS Investigates Baltic Skies

How to Spot a Russian Bomber

Found this interesting article in my stack of stuff from back in the middle of February posted to the BBC News blog (http://www.bbc.com/news/blogs-magazine-monitor-31537705). Given the current situation, this might be helpful to have around.

How to Spot a Russian bomber

Two Russian bombers have been escorted from near UK territory - the latest in a series of similar incidents. How easy is it to spot a Russian plane, asks Jon Kelly.

Plane spotter's guide

The Ministry of Defence insists that the Russian aircraft did not enter British airspace, which extends 12 nautical miles from the nation's coast. But it says they were inside the UK's "area of interest", and the RAF scrambled Typhoon jets to intercept them. If the MoD's account is accurate, they may have been flying too far away for ordinary plane spotters to detect them - although a woman in Cornwall claims she saw them flying inland.

Each was a Tu-95 MS, also known by its NATO reporting name "Bear-H", a four-engine long-range bomber, equipped with turboprop-driven propellers and set-back wings that give it an unmistakable silhouette.

The Bear Bomber
The TU-95 Bear Bomber
The most noticeable thing about the Bear, the earliest iteration of which entered service in 1956, is the almighty racket it makes. Its contra-rotating propellers spin faster than the speed of sound, creating their own sonic boom, making it one of "the loudest combat aircraft ever built", says Justin Bronk of the Royal United Services Institute. The Bear, which typically carries six or seven crew members, is not the fastest aircraft in the Russian fleet, reaching speeds of only about 575 mph (920 km/h). But it is regarded as one of the most reliable, says Bronk, which helps account for its longevity.

A supersonic Tu-160 strategic bomber
A Tu-160 strategic bomber
Another bomber you might expect to see just outside British airspace is the Tu-160, known as the Blackjack, two of which were intercepted by RAF Tornado F3 fighters off the Scottish coast in 2010. Unlike the Bear, the Blackjack is capable of supersonic speeds of up to 2,200km/h. "It's essentially a heavier and faster equivalent of the American B1B Lancer," says Bronk. It also has a longer range and can carry more nuclear-capable missiles. An upgraded version of the TU-160 made its maiden flight in November 2014.

A Russian long-range bomber TU-22
A Russian long-range bomber TU-22
Then there's the Tu-22M3 strategic bomber, which is also supersonic and nuclear-capable. "It's not as big as the Bear and the Blackjack," says Bronk. "Its closest Western equivalent is the F-111." Its variable-sweep wing allows it to take off quickly and fly at very low altitudes. There are thought to be over 100 TU-22Ms in service in the Russian fleet.

The MiG 31 interceptor
The MiG 31 interceptor
Sometimes Bears are escorted by supersonic MiG-31 interceptors, says Bronk. Among the world's fastest combat aircraft, they are equipped with onboard radar that can track 24 airborne targets and attack six at a time. But Bronk says: "Although they are extremely fast and carry powerful radar, they are a essentially an evolution of a very old design, the MiG-25, and are no match for the RAF's Typhoons in air-to-air combat."

Plane spotter's guide
The incident in Cornwall is unlikely to be the last time radar operators detect Bears. There was a similar incident in January when two Bear bombers were escorted by RAF jet after causing what the Foreign Office called a "disruption to civil aviation". The RAF intercepted Russian aircraft on eight occasions in 2014, and the same number of times in 2013, according to MoD figures released under the Freedom of Information Act.

"Bear raids" just outside British airspace were a common occurrence during the Cold War, sometimes taking place every week, says defence analyst Paul Beaver. Back then, he says, the intention was to test the RAF's reaction time. Their frequency lessened in the final years of the Soviet Union and stopped altogether when the Berlin Wall fell. Under Vladimir Putin's leadership, however, they have resumed. Yesterday, Prime Minister David Cameron said he suspected the Russians were "trying to make some sort of a point", and Bronk agrees. "Essentially, it's rattling the sabre."

Thanks to Nick de Larrinaga of IHS Jane's Defence Weekly for assistance with this article.


Russians intercept US reconnaissance plane - Updated Story

A Russian Sukhoi Su-27 fighter flies in international airspace near the Baltic States in this photograph taken on June 17, 2014 and received via Britain's Ministry of Defence (MoD) in London on June 18, 2014. Photo courtesy of RAF/MoD.
The AP is reporting the U.S. is protesting an intercept of a U.S. reconnaissance plane by a Russian fighter jet last week, calling it "unsafe and unprofessional" amid what it views as increasingly aggressive air operations by Moscow.

The Pentagon says that a U.S. RC-135U plane was flying in international airspace north of Poland. U.S. officials say a Russian SU-27 fighter intercepted the U.S. aircraft at a high rate of speed from the rear, and then proceeded to conduct two more passes using "unsafe and unprofessional maneuvers" in close proximity.

It isn't the first time the U.S. has protested to Moscow what it considered to be an unsafe intercept. Last April, a Russian fighter jet intercepted a U.S. reconnaissance plane in international airspace over the Sea of Okhotsk.

Blog Editor's Note: Media reports indicate that this event occurred on 7 April 2015. A quick check of Mode-S logs for that day indicated the only RC-135U airborne that day was RC-135U 64-14849 (Hex code AE01D5) with a mode-s call sign of Telex 97 and yes it was over Poland/Estonia/Finland area between 1000-1300 UTC. Interestingly, based on the database it looks like that aircraft did not fly the next day. This aircraft is still in theater today and has flown the last 3 days using a mod-s call sign of Cuppy 50. Time to pay closer attention to those foxtrot messages.

Full AP story at http://news.yahoo.com/us-protests-intercept-reconnaissance-plane-russia-040542666.html

RC-135U Combat Sent

The RC-135U Combat Sent provides strategic electronic reconnaissance information to the president, secretary of defense, Department of Defense leaders, and theater commanders. Locating and identifying foreign military land, naval and airborne radar signals, the Combat Sent collects and minutely examines each system, providing strategic analysis for warfighters. Collected data is also stored for further analysis by the joint warfighting and intelligence communities. The Combat Sent deploys worldwide and is employed in peacetime and contingency operations.

All RC-135U aircraft are equipped with an aerial refueling system, giving it an unlimited flying range. Communication equipment includes high frequency, very high frequency, and ultra high frequency radios. The navigation equipment incorporates ground navigation radar, a solid state Doppler system, and an inertial navigation system that merges celestial observations and Global Positioning System data. Although the flight crew stations are similarly configured, the reconnaissance equipment is slightly unique within each airframe.

The aircraft are identified by their distinctive antennae arrays on the "chin" and wing tips, large cheek fairings, and extended tail.

Crew composition includes two pilots, one navigator, two airborne systems engineers, and a minimum of 10 electronic warfare officers, or "Ravens," and six or more electronic, technical, and area specialists.

There are only two Combat Sent aircraft in the Air Force inventory and both are assigned to the 55th Wing at Offutt AFB, Neb. The RC-135U aircraft are manned by Air Combat Command crews from the 45th Reconnaissance Squadron and the 97th Intelligence Squadron (of the Air Force Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance Agency). The Combat Sent is composed of a wide variety of commercial off-the-shelf and proprietary hardware and software. Its current configuration allows for both manual and automatic analysis of electronic signals. By combining manual systems with the Automatic Electronic Emitter Locating System, Ravens and intelligence specialists can simultaneously locate, identify, and analyze multiple electronic signals.

The Combat Sent records these signals for future reference or for extensive analysis by electronic systems theorists. Any information garnered from the data will help determine detailed operating characteristics and capabilities of foreign systems. Evasion techniques and equipment are then developed from this knowledge that will detect, warn of, or defeat these electronic systems.

General Characteristics
Primary function: Electronic intelligence reconnaissance and surveillance
Contractor: Boeing Aerospace
Power Plant: Four CFM International F108-CF-201 high bypass turbofan engines
Thrust: 21,600 pounds per engine
Wingspan: 135 feet, 1 inch (41.4 meters)
140 feet, 1 inch (42.6 meters)
Height: 41 feet, 8 inches (12.7 meters)
Weight: 165,7000 (75,160 kilograms)
Maximum Takeoff Weight: 299,000 pounds (135,626.4 kilograms)
Fuel Capacity: 130,000 pounds (58,967 kilograms)
Speed: 500+ miles per hour (Mach 0.66)
Range: 4,000 nautical miles
Ceiling: 35,000+ feet (10,668+ meters)
Crew: Two pilots, one navigator, two airborne systems engineers, and a minimum of 10 electronic warfare officers (flight crew from 45th RS) and six or more mission area specialists (mission crew from 97th IS)
Unit Cost: Not available
Initial operational capability: April 1964
Inventory: Active force, 2; ANG, 0; Reserve, 0 

Thursday, April 09, 2015

US aerospace command moving comms gear back to Cold War bunker

Blog Editor's Note: YahooNews has picked up the following AFP story. HF radio monitors should keep an eye on the following frequencies for activity related to this story (Mode ALE/USB): 4950.0 6770.0 7718.5 7990.0 9350.0 10800.0 12090.0 14550.0 kHz

Washington (AFP) - The US military command that scans North America's skies for enemy missiles and aircraft plans to move its communications gear to a Cold War-era mountain bunker, officers said.
The shift to the Cheyenne Mountain base in Colorado is designed to safeguard the command's sensitive sensors and servers from a potential electromagnetic pulse (EMP) attack, military officers said.

The Pentagon last week announced a $700 million contract with Raytheon Corporation to oversee the work for North American Aerospace Command (NORAD) and US Northern Command.

Admiral William Gortney, head of NORAD and Northern Command, said that "because of the very nature of the way that Cheyenne Mountain's built, it's EMP-hardened."

"And so, there's a lot of movement to put capability into Cheyenne Mountain and to be able to communicate in there," Gortney told reporters.

"My primary concern was... are we going to have the space inside the mountain for everybody who wants to move in there, and I'm not at liberty to discuss who's moving in there," he said.

The Cheyenne mountain bunker is a half-acre cavern carved into a mountain in the 1960s that was designed to withstand a Soviet nuclear attack. From inside the massive complex, airmen were poised to send warnings that could trigger the launch of nuclear missiles.

But in 2006, officials decided to move the headquarters of NORAD and US Northern Command from Cheyenne to Petersen Air Force base in Colorado Springs. The Cheyenne bunker was designated as an alternative command center if needed.
That move was touted a more efficient use of resources but had followed hundreds of millions of dollars worth of modernization work at Cheyenne carried out after the attacks of September 11, 2001.

Now the Pentagon is looking at shifting communications gear to the Cheyenne bunker, officials said.

"A lot of the back office communications is being moved there," said one defense official.

Officials said the military's dependence on computer networks and digital communications makes it much more vulnerable to an electromagnetic pulse, which can occur naturally or result from a high-altitude nuclear explosion.

Under the 10-year contract, Raytheon is supposed to deliver "sustainment" services to help the military perform "accurate, timely and unambiguous warning and attack assessment of air, missile and space threats" at the Cheyenne and Petersen bases.
Raytheon's contract also involves unspecified work at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California and Offutt Air Force Base in Nebraska.

Iran Warships to Yemen

Blog Editor's Note: Look for Iranian Military QPSK/460/600 CF=1100 short crypto databurst traffic on the following frequencies: 5088.0 7988.0 8760.0 10415.0 10418.0 10723.0 15860.0 17382.2 kHz

Other possible Iranian freqeuncies monitored recently include
6265.0 ALE/USB
14508.0 ALE/USB/Codan traffic
16161.0 ALE/USB
The Associated Press is reporting that Iran is dispatching Iranian naval ships to Yemen coastal waters.

"Iran dispatched a naval destroyer and another logistic vessel on Wednesday to waters near Yemen as the United States quickened weapons supply to the Saudi-led coalition striking rebels there, underlining how foreign powers are deepening their involvement in the conflict.
"Iran's English-language state broadcaster Press TV quoted Rear Adm. Habibollah Sayyari as saying the ships would be part of an anti-piracy campaign "safeguarding naval routes for vessels in the region."

Complete story at http://hosted.ap.org/dynamic/stories/M/ML_YEMEN?SITE=AP&SECTION=HOME&TEMPLATE=DEFAULT&CTIME=2015-04-08-08-22-46