Thursday, June 22, 2006

Valiant Shield 2006

For the first time since the Vietnam war there are three U.S. Navy carrier strike groups in the western Pacific. Known as Operations Valiant Shield 2006, the strike groups of the USS Kitty Hawk (CV-63), USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN-72), and the USS Ronald Reagan (CVN-76) are conducting exercises in the Guam operation areas.

And thanks the U.S. Navy Chief PhotographerÂ’s Mate Todd P. Cichonowicz, we have one of the coolest military photos I have seen in recent times. Taken on June 18, 2006, it pictures an Air Force B-2 bomber and 16 other aircraft from the Air Force, Navy, and Marine Corps flying over the Kitty Hawk, Ronald Reagan, and Abe Lincoln carrier strike groups during a joint photo exercise (PHOTOEX) that kicked off exercise Valiant Shield 2006.

Valiant Shield will run from June 19-23 and includes 28 Naval vessels. Nearly 300 aircraft and approximately 22,000 service members from the Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard are also participating in the exercise.

Monitors, especially on the west coast should check the HF fixed frequency ranges for possible Composite Warfare HF nets. These nets can be recognized by the use of the two letter identifier used by the net control. First letter can be any letter in the alphabet (ex: AF/AW, IF/IW, HF/HW, etc), but all CWCs in a particular battle group will use the same first letter. First letter often matches the first letter in the name carrier assigned (Ex: USS Enterprise has used E, the Ike uses I. and USS Harry S Truman has used H, etc.). If multiple battle groups are in a theater, such as in Valiant Shield 2006, each group will use a different first letter. There are quite a few CWC type nets, but most of them areoperatingf on military UHF frequencies and normally out of range for the radio enthusiast on shore. These nets are line of sight and the carrier is usually quite a distance offshore during their normal operations.

Quite a few of the transmissions you hear on HF are from one of these Composite Warfare Commander nets, specifically the Force Track Coordinator (Link-11/Link-16) nets. They use a second letter of 'F' or the generic identifier 'FT.' Another major player on HF is the Air Defense Commanders net, and can be recognized by the second letter of 'W.' Some of these Navy HF nets use tri-graph identifiers (H6F, B2W, etc). Most of these have not been positively IDed as to mission, but some appear to be associated with various FACSFAC operations. With the advent of the bulk of the Navy communications taking place on military geostationary satellites these days, these CWC nets are about the only HF game left to monitors interested in US Navy communications.

As far as frequencies for these Navy CWC nets they can use ANY ute frequency range except in the aeronautical routed subbands. Here is a list from my personal database of frequencies I have caught. This is by no means complete and is heavily loaded towards east coast operations due to my monitor post location. All frequencies are in kHz and mode is Upper Sideband (USB).

2069.0 2230.0 2250.5 2252.0 2334.5 2354.6 2370.0 2518.0 2656.0 2772.0 2844.0 3047.0 3048.5 3050.0 3100.5 3101.0 3125.0 3128.0 3130.0 3151.0 3166.0 3167.0 3167.4 3176.0 3265.0 3307.0 3349.0 3371.0 4039.0 4068.0 4101.0 4102.4 4145.0 4150.5 4153.0 4154.5 4156.0 4164.0 4372.0 4382.0 4394.4 4395.0 4414.0 4417.0 4430.4 4432.0 4433.0 4433.5 4434.5 4513.0 4524.0 4528.0 4562.0 4620.0 4623.5 4645.0 4712.0 4720.0 4721.0 4732.0 4878.5 4939.0 4973.5 5228.6 5333.0 5335.0 5338.6 5399.6 5404.0 5411.0 5425.0 5437.0 5699.0 5708.0 5714.0 5725.5 5729.0 5840.0 5868.5 5908.0 6224.0 6235.0 6242.0 6249.5 6439.4 6554.3 6689.4 6690.0 6723.0 6724.0 6735.0 6748.0 6750.0 6786.6 6835.0 6953.0 6967.0 7653.0 7783.0 7893.5 7945.0 7988.6 7993.5 8149.0 8195.0 8246.0 8252.0 8667.0 8668.5 8776.0 8996.4 9008.0 9023.0 9213.6 9215.0 9257.0 9257.6 9283.5 9285.0 9323.0 10233.6 10376.5 10570.0 10608.0 10618.5 10848.6 10923.5 11053.5 11114.5 11123.6 11139.0 11191.0 11206.4 11220.0 11266.4 11476.0 11498.0 13415.0 13893.6 14360.0 14364.0 20854.0 23200.0 23271.0

CWC net frequencies above 10 MHz are much rarer due to the propagation needs of the ships in the Carrier Strike Group. Since they are normally within 100-300 miles of each other, they do not have a need for working the longer distances associated with the frequencies above 10 MHz. They need close in communications which translates into lower frequencies. This is the reason you see more frequencies below 10 MHz in my list above. Also keep in mind you need a complete darkness path between you and the emitter in order to near activity on the lower CWC frequencies.

These are some of my favorite nets on HF to monitor (for reasons of my own), and if anyone has some additional CWC HF frequencies I would appreciate an email.

You can learn more about this exercise at Valiant Shield 2006.