Thursday, January 29, 2015

Britain says fighter jets scrambled to intercept Russian bombers

Blog Editor's Note: Yesterday I had an opportunity to monitor the Russian Air Force TU-95 Bear H voice network on 8131 kHz USB during this event. It was pretty neat to know that they were flying their strategic long range bombers in the North Sea and I was listening to them.

Some of the ground station call signs monitored included Adris, Balans, Katolik and Geolog. Aircraft in this net use their five digit numbers from their "RA" registration.
( e.g. RA-72181 would be 72181).
This morning has been quiet but their is activity on the 11360 kHz USB Russian Air Force net.

LONDON (Reuters) - British Typhoon fighter jets were scrambled to intercept
two Russian Bear long-range bombers which had flown close to UK airspace,
Britain's Ministry of Defence (MoD) said on Thursday.

The Russian planes were detected flying over the Channel, south of England,
on Wednesday and typhoons were launched from Royal Air Force (RAF) bases at
Lossiemouth in Scotland and Coningsby in eastern England, the MoD said.

"The Russian planes were escorted by the RAF until they were out of the UK
area of interest. At no time did the Russian military aircraft cross into UK
sovereign airspace," the Ministry of Defence said in a statement.

Last year, NATO conducted more than 100 intercepts of Russian aircraft,
about three times as many as in 2013, amid sharply increased tensions
between the West and Moscow over the Ukraine crisis.

Elizabeth Quintana, a senior research fellow at defence think-tank the Royal
United Services Institute said Wednesday's incident was unusual however, and
could be linked to Britain beginning an inquiry into the death nine years
ago in London of Kremlin critic and ex-KGB spy Alexander Litvinenko.

"Normally Russian Bears come past Norway and down the North Sea. It could
have been used to probe the RAF speed of reaction south," she told the Daily
Mail newspaper.

"Flying any military aircraft in or close to the sovereign airspace of
another country signals displeasure or at worst aggression."

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

The next Air Force One will be a Boeing 747-8

Boeing will build a fleet of three aircraft based on the 747-8 to serve as the next Air Force One, Bloomberg reports. The 747-8 is the latest version of the iconic jumbo jet — a design that dates back to the 1960s — with new wings, new engines, and an extended fuselage. It's been around since 2005, but has seen limited traction with airlines thanks to rising fuel prices over the last several years, limited interest in ultra-high-capacity long-haul routes, and competition from Airbus' A380.

The aging fortress in the sky that currently ferries the President of the United States around the world is a Boeing VC-25, a military variant of the 747-200. The 747-200 is a very old plane: the last one was built in 1991, and newer aircraft are far more fuel efficient, technologically advanced, and — frankly — better showcases for American industrial might, which the President would probably want to show off on his travels. Boeing archrival Airbus, a European company, did not submit a bid for the contract based on its enormous A380 double-decker.

The current president won't get to experience the comfort and luxury of the new ride, though: the first one won't be delivered until 2018, and it'll undergo five years of testing before entering full service.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Navy Installations to Conduct Exercise Solid Curtain-Citadel Shield 2015

From Navy Installations Command and Fleet Forces Command Public Affairs 

WASHINGTON (NNS) -- Commander, U.S. Fleet Forces (USFF) and Commander, Navy Installations Command (CNIC) will conduct Exercise Solid Curtain-Citadel Shield 2015 (SC-CS15) Feb. 2-13 on Navy installations located in the continental United States.

 This annual anti-terrorism force protection (ATFP) exercise is designed to train Navy Security Forces to respond to threats to installations and units.

 "This is the largest force protection exercise conducted across the Department of Defense and the value of training events like this cannot be underestimated. This exercise enhances the training and readiness of our security personnel and first responders. Additionally, it creates an integrated learning environment for installation and afloat personnel to exercise functional plans and operational capabilities," said William Clark, CNIC's exercise program manager.

 Exercise SC-CS15 is not in response to any specific threat, but is a regularly scheduled exercise. The exercise will consist of roughly 130 simultaneous field training exercise attacks across the country, each designed to test different regional ATFP operations.

 "Solid Curtain-Citadel Shield 2015 provides an opportunity to assess the Navy's ability to respond to and recover from a broad spectrum of antiterrorism threats," said Capt. Greg Sandway, USFF ATFP exercise director. "One of the key components of the exercise is to improve our ability to protect our Navy equities, but this exercise also enables us to integrate with the emergency responders from the various local communities and establish coordinated response and recovery procedures that are mutually beneficial."

 Measures have been taken to minimize disruptions to normal base operations, but there may be times when the exercise causes increased traffic around bases or delays in base access. Residents near bases may also see increased security activity associated with the exercise. Base personnel should register for the AtHoc wide area alert network if they have not already done so as this will keep them updated of force protection conditions and other emergency, environmental, or exercise-related impacts on the area.

USS Green Bay Departs for Forward Deployment to U.S. 7th Fleet

By Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class (SW/AW) Elizabeth Merriam, USS Green Bay Public Affairs and Commander, U.S. 3rd Fleet Public Affairs 

SAN DIEGO (NNS) -- USS Green Bay (LPD 20) departed San Diego Jan. 26 for Sasebo, Japan, where the San Antonio-class amphibious transport dock ship will join U.S. 7th Fleet's Forward Deployed Naval Forces.

 Green Bay is replacing the decommissioned Austin-class amphibious transport dock ship USS Denver (LPD 9), previously forward-deployed to Sasebo, and will enhance amphibious presence in 7th Fleet as part of the U.S. Navy's long-range plan to send the most advanced and capable units to the Asia-Pacific region.

 "The crew has worked hard to get Green Bay ready," said Commanding Officer Capt. Kristy McCallum. "By my count, we completed a total of 23 training, certification and maintenance cycles in six months. As we've trained, we have prepared ourselves to be ready for a dynamic security environment and diverse missions."

 In addition to the many capabilities inherent to amphibious transport dock ships, Green Bay will bring a host of new technological advancements and warfighting capabilities to 7th Fleet.

 Green Bay is equipped with an advanced command and control suite, increased airlift capacity, substantial increases in vehicle and cargo carrying capability and advanced ship survivability features. The ship supports the rapid transfer of personnel and equipment via landing craft, helicopters, and MV-22 Osprey tilt-rotor aircraft, making this ship a critical element for amphibious ready groups and expeditionary strike groups.

 In 7th Fleet, Green Bay will become part of the USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD 6) Amphibious Ready Group (ARG). The ARG integrates regularly with the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit to ensure the services are trained and ready to operate together to provide the most efficient amphibious fighting force in the Asia-Pacific region.

 Green Bay was commissioned in January 2009, embarked on its maiden deployment February 2011 and completed a second deployment in 2013. The ship has since undergone a year-long maintenance availability in British Aerospace Engineering (BAE) systems shipyard and a dry dock period at the National Steel and Shipbuilding Company (NASSCO) in preparation for forward deployment to Japan.

 U.S. 3rd Fleet leads naval forces in the Eastern Pacific from the West Coast of North America to the international date line.

USS California Returns from Maiden Deployment

By Kevin Copeland, Commander, Submarine Force Atlantic Public Affairs

GROTON, Conn. (NNS) -- The Virginia-class attack submarine USS California (SSN 781) returned to its homeport at U.S. Naval Submarine Base, New London, from its maiden deployment Jan. 24.

 Under the command of Cmdr. Shawn Huey, California is returning from the U.S. European Command area of responsibility where the crew executed the Chief of Naval Operation's maritime strategy in supporting national security interests and maritime security operations.

 "The crew of California performed exceptionally on their first deployment and completed all tasking assigned," said Huey. "We conducted two missions vital to national security, theater anti-submarine warfare, and a multi-national theater anti-submarine warfare exercise.

 During the deployment, California transited more than 40,000 nautical miles.

 Port visits were conducted in Haakonsvern, Norway; Rota, Spain; Faslane, Scotland; and Brest, France.

 "We qualified 31 Sailors in Submarine Warfare, and advanced four chief petty officers, five first class petty officers, six second class petty officers, and eight third class petty officers while deployed," said Huey. "Being deployed over three holidays, we kept the schedule light on those days for scheduled, but we all understood that the ship was conducting deployed operations in support of national and theater tasking over those days.

 "We are looking forward to 30-day stand down where we will be able to take some well-deserved leave, go home to visit our families out of the area and relax with families in the area," said Huey. "There will be a light load of maintenance and repairs to be handled by duty section personnel. More than 25 percent of the crew will rotate in the first six months after the deployment as the crew begins their preparations for the next deployment."

 "I would like to thank the families of California crew members, who without their terrific support and selfless sacrifice, none of these accomplishments would have been possible. Now the crew is looking forward to a well-deserved stand down period to spend some quality time with family and friends," Huey said.

 The eighth Virginia-class submarine commissioned, and the seventh U. S. Navy ship named for the Golden State, California, was built by Huntington Ingalls Industries - Newport News Shipbuilding and commissioned on Oct. 29, 2011, at Naval Station Norfolk, Va.

 California enables five of the six Navy maritime strategy core capabilities: sea control, power projection, forward presence, maritime security, and deterrence.

 The submarine is designed to excel in anti-submarine warfare; anti-ship warfare; strike warfare; special operations; intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance; irregular warfare; and mine warfare missions.

 California is 377 feet long, has a 34-foot beam, able to dive to depths greater than 800 feet and operates at speeds in excess of 25 knots submerged.

Blazing a Trail With the Pathfinders of Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron (HSM) 35, Det. 1

By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Antonio Turretto Ramos, USS Fort Worth (LCS 3) Public Affairs

SINGAPORE (NNS) -- The "Pathfinders" of Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron (HSM) 35, Det. 1, the Navy's first composite expeditionary helicopter squadron, are currently deployed aboard the littoral combat ship USS Fort Worth (LCS 3) during her maiden 16-month rotational deployment to the Indo-Asia-Pacific region.

 HSM-35, Det. 1, is a self-contained portion of the surface warfare mission package on Fort Worth consisting of one MH-60R Sea Hawk helicopter and one MQ-8B Fire Scout unmanned aircraft system.

 "We bring the venerable MH-60R Sea Hawk," said Lt. Cmdr. Douglas Kay, officer-in-charge of HSM-35, Det. 1."The H-60 platform is a tried and true maritime asset with primary missions of surface warfare and anti-submarine warfare. In our current function with the mission package, we are concentrating on surface warfare, but we also carry out secondary missions like vertical replenishments among a number of other things."

 The MH-60R brings search and rescue capabilities, communication relay, and can carry a potential payload of hellfire missiles and a crew-served 50-caliber machine gun to littoral combat ships. Additionally, the MH-60R is equipped with multi-mode radar that includes Inverse Synthetic Aperture Radar and a forward looking infrared electro-optical device, which was used recently during the search for AirAsia Flight QZ8501. The unarmed MQ-8B's primary sensor is a forward looking infrared camera (FLIR). Together the MH-60R and MQ-8B provide enhanced maritime domain awareness with the MQ-8B complementing the MH-60 by extending the detachment's range and endurance capabilities.

 "The Fire Scout increases the aviation detachment's ability to keep eyes on station and provide real time information to the operational commander on the ship," said Kay.
 The 24 Sailors in the detachment are cross-trained to conduct all maintenance and supply for both aircraft. In addition to the helicopter advanced readiness program, as well as the normal workup cycle, the detachment must complete Fire Scout-specific training to fully integrate the unmanned aircraft system into their operations.

 "That's above and beyond what a normal HSM helicopter detachment will have to do," said Kay. "We are currently the only helicopter detachment that does what we do, but HSM-35, Det. 2, is currently in the workup cycle with LCS Crew 103 on USS Freedom (LCS 3) and is preparing to come replace us."

 The first crew swap is scheduled for mid-February, which is when the Pathfinders will rotate to another task, along with LCS Crew 104, after conducting turnover and sharing lessons learned with incoming HSM-35, Det. 2.

 "We're doing great! We've been getting a lot of good flight time in with Sea Hawk and Fire Scout operations and just like our detachment name says, we're the Pathfinders, and we're creating new techniques everyday on how to best operate both Sea Hawk and Fire Scout on a littoral combat ship," said Kay.

 Fort Worth is currently in port Singapore, its maintenance and logistics hub, after having recently returned from supporting the Indonesian-led search to locate the AirAsia plane. Throughout the ship's 13 days on station in the Java Sea, HSM 35, Det. 1, conducted more than 90 hours of search operations using the MH-60R, covering more than 2,500 square nautical miles.

 Over the course of its deployment, Fort Worth will increase LCS operations in the region by visiting more ports, engaging more regional navies during exercises like Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training, and expanding LCS capabilities with tools like the Fire Scout.

 The U.S. 7th Fleet conducts forward-deployed naval operations in support of U.S. national interests in the Indo-Asia-Pacific area of operations. As the U.S. Navy's largest numbered fleet, U.S. 7th Fleet interacts with 35 other maritime nations to build partnerships that foster maritime security, promote stability and prevent conflict.

Bonhomme Richard Conducts Ammo Onload

By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Adam D. Wainwright, USS Bonhomme Richard Public Affairs

SASEBO HARBOR, Japan (NNS) -- The forward-deployed amphibious assault ship USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD 6) conducted an ammo on-load Jan. 22-23 in preparation for its next deployment in the U.S. 7th Fleet area of responsibility.

 Over the course of two days, Weapons Department Sailors craned on and stored more than 1,000 pallets of ammunition and ordnance in preparation for upcoming exercises.

 "When we conduct the on-load, we're bringing on enough ordnance and ammo to act as a war contingency for all of U.S. 7th Fleet and our allies," said Aviation Ordnanceman 1st Class Christopher Barth, from Medina, Ohio. "Whether it's special warfare forces, explosive ordnance disposal or Marines, we are prepared and ready to assist them in executing their respective missions."

 Gunner's mates, aviation ordnancemen, and Naval Munitions Command (NMC), Sasebo civilian contractors, utilized several tools to safely move ordnance. Barth stressed the importance of taking the proper precautions when moving the ordnance during these evolutions.

 "There are numerous safety hazards when conducting an evolution of this magnitude," said Barth. "Everything from accidents with the forklifts to explosions are things that we need to prevent and be ready to respond to. We've taken every precaution to ensure the safety of our Sailors and our ship."

 This evolution requires Bonhomme Richard's Weapons Department Sailors to not only have the most focused amount of attention to detail to prevent injury, but also a tremendous amount of teamwork.

 "This is the first time 30 of our Sailors have been through this evolution and I'm extremely impressed by their work ethic and positive attitude," said Barth. "We have top notch leadership in weapons department and they've done a tremendous job preparing everyone for the onload."

 The Bonhomme Richard Amphibious Ready Group is currently under the tactical command of embarked Commander, Amphibious Squadron 11, Capt. Heidi Agle and reports to Commander, Amphibious Force U.S. 7th Fleet, Rear Adm. Hugh D. Wetherald, headquartered in White Beach, Okinawa, Japan.

VP-26 Begins Historic Last Deployment of the P-3C Orion

VP-26 Sailors work beneath a P-3C Orion maritime patrol aircraft as they prepare for the squdron's last P-3C deployment on Jan. 16. (Photos by MC1 John Smolinski)

By Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class (SW/AW) John S. Smolinski, Naval Air Station Jacksonville Public Affairs

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (NNS) -- The "Tridents" of Patrol Squadron (VP) 26 begin their last deployment with the P-3C Orion aircraft with a send-off of their first two planes out of Naval Air Station, Jacksonville, Jan. 22.

 The historic occasion was attended by senior leadership, family and friends of VP-26 Sailors and members of the Jacksonville community.

 "This is a historic deployment for you," said Rear Adm. Matthew J. Carter, commander of Patrol and Reconnaissance Group. "You are the last operational P-3 squadron on the East Coast. Once you go, we are a P-8 only force. That does not diminish anything you do with this aircraft. America has given us the best, and this aircraft is still a very capable airplane."

 Carter knows firsthand how much the P-3 community has contributed to the success of the Navy's mission. He served as both executive officer and commanding officer of VP-26, and he told the Sailors just how special it is to wear the Trident colors.

 "We have been flying this aircraft for 50 years," said Carter. "The whole squadron, from the admin department, the maintainers and the aircrew has continued to go out and do great things, and I know you are going to go out on this deployment and do great."

 Preparing the squadron for a deployment presents its challenges which include everything from packing up parts and equipment, preparing junior Sailors for their first deployment and making sure Sailors are up to date with their training.

 "Seeing that there are not many P-3s around and this being the last P-3 deployment for the East Coast," said VP-26 Command Master Chief James B. Daniels. "Getting parts has been a big issue. Also, since most of our preparations have been during the holidays, we needed to work hard to make sure our Sailors were trained on what is expected of them and they were ready for deployment, but the squadron has met its challenges and now is ready to go."

 The support from family and friends is an integral part of the success of the Sailors.

 "My family is so supportive and so much a part of my life," said Aviation Electronics Technician 2nd Class David Heder. "Having to leave them is the hardest part of deployments."

 Heder's wife and two children were there to show their support. Heder said that he was a little nervous and sad to leave his family.

 "I'm looking forward to this as much as I can," said Heder. "I miss my family when I'm away, but I have a job to do and I enjoy it because I learn something new every day, and I'm challenged every day."

 Heder said this is his second history-making deployment since he has been in the Navy.

 "I actually helped introduce the P-8 while I served at VP-30," said Heder. "It's cool to be able to say that I was a part of the P-8 coming in and now a part of the P-3 going out in Jacksonville."

 Retired Chief William W. Stewart, from the aviation structural mechanic community and a Jacksonville resident, was present to witness this historic day. Stewart served 30 years in the Navy and was factory-trained on the P-3 in 1962.

 "I was assigned to VP-9 as an airframes chief after training with Lockheed on the P-3s and went on their first deployment with the aircraft in November 1964," said Stewart. "It's kind of sad to see the P-3 go, but it's an evolution. It's a new age; we have cell phones, wide-screen TVs and now the P-8s."

 VP-26 became the Navy's first operational P-3B squadron in January 1966, when the squadron received the first production of the P-3B while stationed at Naval Air Station, Brunswick, Maine.

 "I am so proud of all the Sailors who have worked so hard to keep these aircraft flying for so many years," said Cmdr. Gregory Smith, VP-26 commanding officer.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

One Service You Can Hear to Monitor Navy Ships on HF

Interested in listening the Navy ships on HF? Then the U.S. Navy SESEF frequencies are your ticket to make that happen.

The Shipboard Electronic Systems Evaluation Facilities (SESEFs) are land based test sites established to facilitate testing of ships' electromagnetic transmitting and receiving equipment. The SESEFs provide test and evaluation services to U.S. Navy, U.S. Coast Guard and Military Sealift Command activities as well as allied foreign navies.
So were do you listen? Set your rig to USB and try our list below. You will hear occasional encrypted comms and the ships will use tactical voice call signs.
* indicates a frequency guarded continuously during normal working hours.

SESEF Norfolk -
4040.0 4515.0 7535.0* 9260.0 12315.0* kHz (USB) 274.800* MHz (AM)
The Norfolk SESEF facility is operational 5 days a week from 0700-1600, excluding weekends and holidays.

The Norfolk SESEF facility is located in Building 102 at Fort Story, Virginia Beach. The facility overlooks the Atlantic Ocean, Chesapeake Bay and the approaches to the Virginia Capes operating area.  In addition to at-sea testing, directional antennas provide LOS support for pier side testing from all naval and shipyard facilities in the Tidewater area.  The Naval Undersea Warfare Center (NUWC) Division, Newport, RI operates this facility.

Norfolk SESEF at Fort Story (US Navy Photo)

SESEF Mayport -
5745.0 kHz (USB) 274.800* MHz (AM)
The Mayport SESEF site is operational 5 days a week from 0700-1600, excluding weekends and holidays.

The Mayport SESEF is located in Building 1860 on  Naval Station Mayport, FL. The facility has LOS capability for pier side testing as well as easy access to ships in the Jacksonville operating area. This facility is operated by NUWC Division Newport, RI and managed by the Norfolk SESEF facility.

Mayport SESEF (US Navy Photo)
SESEF Ediz Hook (PACNW) -
3235.0* kHz (USB) 308.500* MHz (AM)
The Ediz Hook SESEF facility is operational 5 days a week from 0800-1600,
excluding weekends and holidays.

The Ediz Hook SESEF is located on the U.S. Coast Guard Air Station, Ediz Hook, near Port Angeles, Washington. The Puget Sound coastal waters are adjacent to the facilities. This site supports the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard, Bangor Naval Submarine Base, Naval Air Station Whidbey Island and Everett Naval Station. NUWC Division Keyport, WA operates this facility.

Navy SESEF Ediz Hook (US Navy Photo)
SESEF Pearl Harbor -
16087.0* kHz (USB) 277.000* MHz (AM)
The Hawaii SESEF facility is operational Monday through Friday from 0700-1530, excluding weekends and holidays.

The Hawaii SESEF is located at the Barber's Point Light Station, Kapolei, HI.  It is within line-of-sight (LOS) of Pearl Harbor, Sand Island, Naval Air Station Barber's Point, and the Fleet Operational Readiness Accuracy Check Site (FORACS) III.  Surface ships, submarines, and aircraft can be serviced at dockside, hanger side and underway.  This facility serves the U.S. Naval Forces in the MIDPAC area.  SESEF testing is conducted in port, during transit to and from Pearl Harbor, and on designated test ranges.  NUWC Detachment, Waianae, HI operates this facility. SESEF Hawaii is located at latitude 21 degrees 17 minutes 48 seconds north and longitude 158 degrees 6 minutes 23 seconds west.

Navy SESEF Hawaii (US Navy Photo)
SESEF San Diego -
5742.0 kHz (USB) 236.200 264.200 MHz (AM)
The San Diego SESEF site is operational 5 days a week from 0700-1600, excluding weekends and holidays.

The San Diego SESEF is located at the SPAWAR Seaside Complex, Building 610, on the ocean side of Point Loma, overlooking the Pacific Ocean. This location provides easy access to ships as they transit the entrance of San Diego's harbor. NUWC Detachment, San Diego, CA operates this facility. SESEF San Diego is located at latitude 32 degrees 41 minutes 35 seconds north and longitude 117 degrees 15 minutes 4 seconds west. The Nominal Range Center is located at latitude 32 degrees 41 minutes 12 seconds north and longitude 117 degrees 25 minutes 30 seconds west.

SESEF Facility San Diego (US Navy Photo)
SESEF Yokosuka -
5304.0 kHz (USB) 295.000 MHz (AM)
The Yokosuka SESEF site is operational from 0700-1600, excluding weekends and holidays. 

USS George Washington in Yokosuka (US Navy Photo)
For the radio monitor these are some neat frequencies to monitor and they will let you follow the comings and goings of the fleet.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

NORAD Falcon Virgo Exercise to be Conducted in Washington DC

The North American Aerospace Defense Command and its geographical component, the Continental United States NORAD Region, will conduct exercise Falcon Virgo 15-04 Wednesday night through Friday morning, in the National Capital Region, Washington, D.C. Flights are scheduled to take place between midnight and 5:30 a.m. (EST) each day.

In  the event of inclement weather, the exercise will take place the following evening.  If bad weather continues, officials will then make a decision to postpone or cancel the exercise.

The exercise is comprised of a series of training flights held in coordination with the Federal Aviation Administration, the National Capital Region Coordination Center, the Joint Air Defense Operations Center, Civil Air Patrol, U.S. Coast Guard and CONR’s Eastern and Western Air Defense Sectors.

Exercise Falcon Virgo is designed to hone NORAD’s intercept and identification operations as well as operationally test the NCR Visual Warning System and training personnel at the JADOC. Civil Air  Patrol aircraft and a U.S. Coast Guard MH-65 Dolphin helicopter will participate in the exercise.

These exercises are carefully planned and closely controlled to ensure CONR’s rapid response capability. NORAD has conducted exercise flights of this nature throughout the U.S. and Canada since the start of Operation Noble Eagle, the command’s response to the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001.

As the continental United States (CONUS) geographical component of the bi-national command NORAD, CONR provides airspace surveillance and control, and directs air sovereignty activities for the CONUS region. CONR and its assigned Air Force and Army assets throughout the country ensure air safety and security against potential air threats.

Since Sept. 11, 2001, CONR fighters have responded to more than 5,000 possible air threats in the United States and have flown more than 62,500 sorties with the support of Airborne Warning and Control System and air-to-air-refueling aircraft.

The New Norm - Russian Spy Ship docks in Havana - Again!

The Viktor Leonov CCB-175 is docked at the port of Havana, on January 20, 2015 (AFP Photo/Francisco Jara)
AFP is reporting that the Russian intelligence warship Viktor Leonov CCB-175 docked in Havana on Tuesday, a day before the start of historic US-Cuba talks aimed at normalizing diplomatic relations.
There was nothing stealthy about the arrival of the Leonov, which was moored to a pier in Old Havana where cruise ships often dock. But the visit was not officially announced by Cuban authorities.

The Vishnya or Meridian-class intelligence ship, which has a crew of around 200, went into service in the Black Sea in 1988 before it was transferred seven years later to the northern fleet, according to Russian media.

The vessel previously docked in Havana in February and March last year, staying there for a few days. Those visits were also unannounced.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

DOD Wants To Upgrade Air Force One, 'Doomsday' Aircraft Communications Suites

James Drew on the website reported on January 9 that Pentagon comptroller Mike McCord has submitted a reprogramming request to Congress to modify and upgrade the communications equipment aboard Air Force One as well as the nuclear-hardened "Doomsday" aircraft.

Of the $79 million in requested funds transfers, an equal amount will come from several important programs, such as the B-52 digital communications upgrade, where the Air Force believes it has found funding that is "excess to need."

According to a reprogramming request signed Nov. 13, 2014, and published recently, the two VC-25A Air Force One aircraft would receive wireless Internet access through a $2 million modification and a further $37 million would install high-bandwidth commercial satellite communications (SATCOM) equipment.

The E-4B National Airborne Operations Center (NAOC) that is better known as the "Doomsday" aircraft for its specialized nuclear command-and-control mission would receive a super-high-frequency Ka and X-band capability -- at a cost of $40 million.

"This upgrade will ensure the continued connectivity and interoperability needed to keep pace with changes in the satellite and communications infrastructure," the document states.

The two VC-25As are assigned to Air Mobility Command's 89th Airlift Wing and are stationed at Andrews Air Force Base, MD.

Four E-4Bs are assigned to U.S. Strategic Command and are operated by Air Combat Command's 55th Wing from Offut Air Force Base, NB.

Both fleets support strategic national-level missions and are due for replacement over the next decade. The Air Force expects to issue a request for proposals for a new presidential aircraft some time this year.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Top Gear Russia Magazine Accidentally Published An Image Of A Classified Submarine

Top Gear Russia Magazine Accidentally Published An Image Of A Classified Submarine courtesy of Business Insider
In a Business Insider article published online and written by Elena Holodny is reporting that the Russian edition of the automobile magazine published a photo of the classified "AC-12 Project," a nuclear deep-water submarine, nicknamed "Losharik" after a children's movie.

This was first reported by the unofficial blog of the Center for Analysis of Strategies and Technologies and picked up by Slon Media, which reached out to an expert for commentary.

Russia is in the midst of a serious military buildup. Among other things, the Russian military is upgrading its navy and by 2020 is hoping to add at least 16 new nuclear submarines to its Northern and Pacific fleets.

Click here for the original pictures, the entire article and comments from readers.

Thursday, January 08, 2015

RAF Mildenhall to Close - Basing Deck Being Reshuffled in Europe

STUTTGART, Germany — A major U.S. Air Force base in the United Kingdom and 14 other installations scattered across Europe will close as part of sweeping reorganization of forces on the Continent, the Pentagon announced.

Operations at RAF Mildenhall, home to Air Force special operations forces, air refueling tankers and 3,200 military personnel, will end and missions carried out there will be moved to other locations such as Germany. Two other facilities in the U.K. — RAF Alconbury and Molesworth — also will close as part of a consolidation effort. Most of the missions there will be moved to RAF Croughton.

Meanwhile, the Pentagon plans to station two squadrons of F-35s at RAF Lakenheath by 2020, which ensures the continuous presence of U.S. air power in the country.

As a result of the moves, there will be a slight reduction in overall force levels. However, Germany and Italy are expected to gain troops through the Pentagon’s moves.

In all, the Pentagon expects to save about $500 billion annually from the consolidations, which have been under review for more than a year.

Other announced closures and consolidations involve support facilities rather than major bases.

Monday, January 05, 2015

Russian Air Force Aircraft/Tankers Uses CW!

Image credit: Flo Weiss

Found an interesting article that appeared last November in The Aviationist online at Article which features info from Tom Hill of the UDXF talks about how the Russian Air Force still uses CW.

"Then, according to Tom Hill, a radio enthusiast and reader of The Aviationist, the Tu-95MS and IL-78Ms were active in Voice and Morse Code.
The Russians still use quite a lot of Morse and especially for these extended out of area missions. They send the same short 3 figure tactical messages back to their control in Russia using Morse and Voice. Radio enthusiasts were busy logging the activity last week.

“I just copied the Morse. You can’t really get any info from the Morse as it is short encoded three figure groups. They send the same in Voice. The only thing different here was the IL-78s using the Bort number in voice for the air route over the Mediterranean. Morse Key fit on Tu-95MS radio operators station. On the HF radios you can see 8909 KHz USB set up for the voice transmissions. This is the frequency they use during the Summer,” Hill explained in an email to us."

Saturday, January 03, 2015

Russian Government Presidential Aircraft Fleet

One of the more fascinating things for me as a radio monitor t1o study, research and catalog are other government and military organizations (I really should have been a spook).

The one that fascinates me the most is Russia. Their military, space program, Navy, Air Force, Air Defense Networks, government and all the rest I find fascinating from a monitors point of view. Heck, I even get a big kick working Russian hams and collecting their oblasts and QSL cards.

So when I run across some stuff on their government presidential aircraft fleet I can't pass it up and thought I would post something here in the hope to get some discussion going in various radio circles out there.

According to an article I found at Wikipedia:

"Rossiya Airlines OJSC, operating as Rossiya — Russian Airlines (Rossiya — Rossiyskie avialinii) is a secondary national airline with its head office in Saint Petersburg, Russia, resulting from the 2006 merger of the Moscow-based company of the same name and Saint Petersburg-based Pulkovo Aviation Enterprise. The airline operates scheduled and charter passenger flights from Saint Petersburg and Moscow, and VIP flights on behalf of the Russian government, including the operation of the Russian presidential aircraft fleet for the President of Russia. Rossiya maintains an operational base at Pulkovo Airport in Saint Petersburg."

Rossiya Government Aircraft Fleet

According to the Wikipedia article mentioned above, the Rossiya government fleet consists of the following aircraft (August 2014) (my number varies slightly for the TU-214s and TU-204-300s):

Aircraft Type: In Fleet-Orders-Stored
Airbus ACJ319: 2-0-0
Ilyushin Il-62M: 1-0-0
Ilyushin Il-96-300: 8-0-0
Tupolev Tu-154: 1-0-0
Tupolev Tu-204-300: 2-0-0
Tupolev Tu-214: 10-2-0
Total: 24-2-0

Below is my latest list with a few Mode-S codes that I could find. I hope to add to this list in the future and if you have anything you would like to share, please contact me at the email address in the masthead. My numbers are a bit off from those listed above but as with any secretive style of government I have come to expect that. Here is the best info I have to date. I haven't been able to find anything on the Airbus aircraft. * May not part a current member of the fleet

RA-64057 Tupolev TU-204-300 14FA39
RA-64058 Tupelov TU-204-300 14FA3A*
RA-64059 Tupolev TU-204-300
RA-64515 Airborne Relay Aircraft Tupolev TU-214SR
RA-64516 Airborne Relay Aircraft Tupolev TU-214SR
RA-64517 Command Post Tupolev TU-214PU
RA-64520 Command Post Tupolev TU-214PU
RA-64522 Command Post Tupolev TU-214SUS 14FC0A
RA-64523 Command Post Tupolev TU-214SUS
RA-64524 Command Post Tupolev TU-214SUS
RA-64525 Command Post Tupolev TU-214PU
RA-64526 Airborne Relay Aircraft Tupolev TU-214SR
RA-64527 Airborne Relay Aircraft Tupolev TU-214SR* May still be on order
RA-64528 Airborne Relay Aircraft Tupolev TU-214SR* May still be on order
RA-86570 Airborne command customized for emergency response agency EMERCOM  Il-62M 
RA-85655 Tupelov TU-154M Possible Open Skies aircraft?*
RA-96012 Russian equivalent of AF1 Ilyushin Il-96-300PU
RA-96016 Russian equivalent of AF1 Ilyushin Il-96-300PU 157710
RA-96017 Russian equivalent of AF1 Ilyushin Il-96-300PU 157711*
RA-96018 Russian equivalent of AF1 Ilyushin Il-96-300PU 157712
RA-96019 Russian equivalent of AF1 Ilyushin Il-96-300PU 157713
RA-96020 Russian equivalent of AF1 Ilyushin Il-96-300PU 157714
RA-96021 Russian equivalent of AF1 Ilyushin Il-96-300PU 157715

And then there is this from the Russian Take-Off website:

"On 27 October 2011, the airfield of the Kazan Aviation Production Association named after S.P. Gorbunov (KAPO) witnessed the maiden flight of the new Tupolev Tu-204SUS special-purpose aircraft (RA-64522) built on order by the Russian Presidential Property Management Department. The aircraft was piloted by a crew led by KAPO test-pilot Alexey Ryabov. The aircraft carrying a “special communications centre” (SUS in Russian), is the fifth airliner out of the six special Tu-214 derivatives ordered by the Presidential Property Management

"The first two aircraft the department ordered from the Kazan-based aircraft manufacturer – Tu-214SR relay aircraft (RA-64515 and RA-64516) – were built in 2008 and handed over to the Rossiya special air detachment in a ceremony on 1 June 2009.

"Last year, KAPO assembled two more aircraft under the Presidential Property Management Department order. They were Tu-214PU VIP airborne command posts. The former of the two (RA-64517) was received by Rossiya in October 2010 and the latter (RA-64520) in January this year.

"The government-awarded order for two Tu-214SUS aircraft is to be fulfilled before year-end. The second aircraft of the type (RA-64524) was rolled out right on the heels of the first Tu-214SUS.

"Once it is delivered, the Kazan-based aircraft maker will have fulfilled the order from the Presidential Property Management Department for six special aircraft derived from the Tu-214.

"The aircraft fleet of the presidential air detachment is to be beefed up with other new domestically-built types as well. In October, the Aviastar-SP close corporation in Ulyanovsk rolled out two Tupolev Tu-204-300A airliners (RA-64057 and RA-64059) at once. RA-64057 first flew on 29 October, controlled by a crew led by Tupolev JSC test-pilot Victor Minashkin. According to Tupolev, the Tu-204-300As slated for the presidential air detachment are equipped with “a VIP cabin that has been soundproofed effectively, furnished with up-to-date telephone communications systems and provided with Internet access."

TU-214 Aircraft

For me the most interesting of all the aircraft studied so far are the Tupolev TU-214 variants. They look like the airborne strategic command post structure of the Russian Government. It would be interesting to catch some HF activity from these birds.

Tu-214 is a variation of Tu-204 first flown on 21 March 1996. It is technically a Tu-204-200, one of the differences being that it is built by a different factory. Planes designated Tu-204 are produced in Ulyanovsk by Aviastar-SP; Tu-214 in Kazan by the Kazan Aircraft Production Association (KAPO). Both factories are independent from the Tupolev design bureau and have some control over the design of the variant they produce.

The Tu-214 is essentially a higher gross weight variant of the Tu-204, being fitted with extra fuel tanks and structural adjustments to deal with the heavier gross weight. For this reason, the Russian government prefers to use it as the platform upon which all further modifications for the 'Special Mission' variants will be based. Some of the special mission variants are disclosed to be capable of a non-stop 10,000 kilometre flight range.

Tu-214ON - Observation version of Tu-204-200 equipped for Treaty on Open Skies missions. Two ordered by Russian Ministry of Defence, with a delivery planned for 2012 and 2013.
Tu-214PU - Airborne command post version. Two operated for Russian Ministry of Defence.
Tu-214SR - Communications relay version. Two operated by GTK Rossiya for Russian government, with three more planned.
Tu-214SUS - Communications relay version for Russian Ministry of Defence. Two on order and they were suppose to be delivered planned by end of 2012.
Tu-214R - Special-mission versions of the Tu-214 commercial transport aircraft, developed under the codename ‘Project 141', to replace the ELINT plattform Il-20 Coot. The aircraft are configured to carry the MRC-411 multi-intelligence payload, to include electronic intelligence (ELINT) sensors, side-looking Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) and other Signals Intelligence (SIGINT) and Communications Intelligence (COMINT). In addition, the aircraft will carry multi-spectral electro-optical systems. The aircraft has conducted test flights over the Sea of Japan but the program was experiencing problems as of January 2013 according to Jane's Defense Weekly 16 January 2013. The Tu-214R made it public debut in August 2013 at Moscow Air Show MAKS and is the proposed platform for conducting surveillance of the United States of America in accordance with the open skies treaty to monitor compliance with the relevant treaties.

Tu-214R inflight from Borisoglebskoye airfield (2014) Rimma Sadykova -

Got anything you want to share, you can do so anonymously or whatever via the email address in the masthead.

Friday, January 02, 2015

Thursday, January 01, 2015

Can You Solve the Mystery of the Russian UVB-76?

Happy New Year to all my readers, and friends. Let's start the New Year out right with an HF radio mystery.

Can you solve the mystery of UVB-76??? Check it our at

From the Wikipedia article on The Buzzer:

"UVB-76, also known as The Buzzer, is the nickname given by radio listeners to a shortwave radio station that broadcasts on the frequency 4625 kHz. It broadcasts a short, monotonous About this sound buzz tone, repeating at a rate of approximately 25 tones per minute, for 24 hours per day. On very rare occasions, the buzzer signal is interrupted and a voice transmission in Russian takes place. The first reports were made of a station on this frequency in 1982. Its origins have been traced to Russia, and although several theories with varying degrees of plausibility exist, its actual purpose has never been officially confirmed and remains a source of speculation.

"The station is commonly referred to as the Buzzer among English-speaking radio listeners, while Russian listeners refer to it as жужжалка (žužžalka) – "the buzzer". Its official name is not known, although some of the voice transmissions have revealed names which may be call signs or another form of identification. Up until September 2010, the station identified itself as UVB-76 (Cyrillic: УВБ-76), and it is still often referred to by that name. In September 2010, the station moved to another location, and it has used the identification MDZhB (Cyrillic: МДЖБ, phonetic spelling "Mikhail Dmitri Zhenya Boris") from then onwards. It has been suggested that the correct identification until September 2010 was actually UZB-76 (Cyrillic: УЗБ-76), and that the Cyrillic letter Ze (З) had been misheard as the letter Ve (В). However, it is still referred to as "UVB-76" by most people. Although the station, by and large, has used these two codes at the beginning of most voice transmissions, a few voice messages have used other identification codes. This makes it uncertain whether the names are actually the call sign of the station, or some other identifying code.

"The station transmits using AM with a suppressed lower sideband (R3E), but it has also used full double-sideband AM (A3E). The signal consists of a buzzing sound that lasts 1.2 seconds, pausing for 1–1.3 seconds, and repeating 21–34 times per minute. Until November 2010, the buzz tones lasted approximately 0.8 seconds each. One minute before the hour, the repeating tone was previously replaced by a continuous, uninterrupted alternating tone, which continued for one minute until the short repeating buzz resumed, although this no longer occurs since June 2010.

"The Buzzer has apparently been broadcasting since at least 1982 as a repeating two-second pip, changing to a buzzer in early 1990. It briefly changed to a higher tone of longer duration (approximately 20 tones per minute) on January 16, 2003, but it has since reverted to the previous tone pattern."

See additional Wikipedia material at

There is a great Daily Mail article featuring an interview with UDXF luminary Ary Boender by clicking here.