Interesting Air/Mil Air Intercept

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af5rn

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I just caught an interesting exchange on 123,1, which is an air search and rescue frequency, while monitoring from my Dallas-Fort Worth area home.

Three or four times, I heard an aircraft identifying himself only as "U.S. Air Force" calling another aircraft by an ID I could not understand (you know how mush-mouthed pilots are), and attempting to get him to respond. The AF pilot said, "you have been squawking emergency. Do you copy on this frequency?" Finally, the other aircraft replied, saying, "We have the situation resolved now. I'd like an immediate approach to Barksdale", which is an AFB in Louisiana. I couldn't understand much of what they said after that, but I *think* I may have heard them say the word "simulated" a couple of times.

If this was just an exercise, it sure was odd timing in the middle of the night. If it was an actual "situation", then it was definitely a first catch for me. I do not routinely monitor air or mil air, keeping only the local aeromed airinc, helicopter multicoms, 121,5 and 123,1 programmed in regularly, so it was interesting to me!
 

kennyloatman

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I will hear huntress, our area norad, do a drill often with our area fighter squadron out of Atlantic city. They say things like "hostile boggy in the bullseye" and "scramble, scramble " you can actually hear the f-16 pilots in pursuit , saying things like " I have a visual, pilot is being hostile, Need green light" They give little indication that it is not the real thing.
 

N1SQB

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This brings up a good question for me!
I remember hearing "huntress" during the days following the 911 attacks. I had my antenna really high up on the roof at the time and the reception was nice. Huntress is even featured in one of the flight 93 movies. Where exactly is huntress located?

Manny
 

N1SQB

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Interesting!

Thanks Jack!
I now have a larger frequency base to monitor thanks to that article. However, it does not say WHERE they are located. The reason I want to know is so that I can gage my antennas' long distance receiving ability.

Manny
 

BMT

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GOOGLE 601st Air Operations Center Tyndall AFB. Close but no doughnut!!

BMT
 

trainman111

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Thanks Jack!
I now have a larger frequency base to monitor thanks to that article. However, it does not say WHERE they are located. The reason I want to know is so that I can gage my antennas' long distance receiving ability.

Manny
NORAD itself is located in Colorado. However, they have radio towers all over the country. I'm not aware of any sites that list each and every tower location, so it might take a bit of research to find out where the closest one to you is.
 

BM82557

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Thanks Jack!
I now have a larger frequency base to monitor thanks to that article. However, it does not say WHERE they are located. The reason I want to know is so that I can gage my antennas' long distance receiving ability.

Manny
Here is a link to the wiki article on Norad. The link in Jack103's post of 6/27 points to pdf that includes a map. The NE & SE sectors were merged several years ago.
 

JohnFB

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FWIW - when the 102FW @ Cape Cod, MA had hijacking drills, the fighters would proceed most of their communications with the words, "exercise, exercise, exercise," particularly when communicating with the 'hijacked' plane.

They often would use a CG Falcon as the 'target' aircraft.


I will hear huntress, our area norad, do a drill often with our area fighter squadron out of Atlantic city. They say things like "hostile boggy in the bullseye" and "scramble, scramble " you can actually hear the f-16 pilots in pursuit , saying things like " I have a visual, pilot is being hostile, Need green light" They give little indication that it is not the real thing.
 

trainman111

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Yes jack103, but the NE and SE sectors of NORAD (NEADS and SEADS respectively) have been combined. They are now 1 big sector that covers the east coast.
 
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FWIW - when the 102FW @ Cape Cod, MA had hijacking drills, the fighters would proceed most of their communications with the words, "exercise, exercise, exercise," particularly when communicating with the 'hijacked' plane.

They often would use a CG Falcon as the 'target' aircraft.
Leaker 19 inbound, exercize, exercize priority intercept used for NEADS exercizes

Just curious what frequency did you hear that on?
 

gralston73

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Kfred

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AF training freq.

I have been hearing training coms on 121MHZ. These used to be on uhf and 140.175 in the Brownwood MOA. Have not listened as much lately, traffic usually ceases before midnight. I have seen as many as eight aircraft at one time in the same area, but they dropped back down to the usual two or four aircraft pretty quickly. Use a BC-700 and thought that the 121 MHZ freq was a poorly selective radio, but I think it is correct. Watch these aircraft at night they have different exterior lighting modes they use. The flares they use are very bright and someone called the police dept. one night and reported them as a UFO. Kfred
 

Cowthief

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Air intercept frequency.

Hello.

I have seen where people have posted that 121.5 MHz is the air intercept frequency, not correct.
First off, why would an aircraft be on 121.5, except for an emergency?
Second, what if the radio is turned off?
So, what we need is a fixed-tuned radio that is normally always on.
This is the marker beacon receiver, a radio with an antenna pointed down, and why intercept aircraft fly a close level pattern on intercept.
This operates on 75 MHz AM.
There are 3 distinct tones for the outer, middle, and final marker beacons.
In a lot of aircraft, any one tone will signal a chime, and by sending all 3 tones at once in succession the chime will sound in succession.
Also, one the audio panel for most smaller aircraft are 3 lights, one each for the beacons.
In larger aircraft, the glass cockpit lights up in the correct colors.
But, whatever the case, you will have flashing lights and warning chimes in the cockpit.
No question that something is wrong, no matter what the radios are set for.
And, if the autopilot is on, the stick shaker is turned on and the klaxon horn is sounded.
The autopilot is left engaged.
 

freqhopping

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Hello.

I have seen where people have posted that 121.5 MHz is the air intercept frequency, not correct.
Obviously you've never heard an intercept, because that it what they use. If you have two radios one should be set to 121.5. If you only have one radio and lose contact on your assigned freq then you should be on 121.5 attempting to make contact, especially if you're flying in an area with restricted airspace. If you seen an F-16 off your wing it would really wise of you to switch to 121.5.

Here is a recording off an intercept conducted on 121.5.http://www.fileupyours.com/view/191254/Intercept3-9-08.WAV
Fortunately for this guy he had 121.5 tuned in.
 

Cowthief

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Lost and hungry.

Hello.

The assumption is that the intercept is of a pilot who is aware of what is going on.
Most of the time the pilot is simply not aware, not a clue.
Malfunctions of avionics do happen, usually a a simple error in punching in the numbers.
Even military aircraft do this, just a decimal error can send an aircraft miles off the intended course.
And, with the errors your charts are off, so the published frequencies are off.
And, at 20,000 feet, you see nothing of the ground most of the time.
This happens quite frequently.
What makes me so sure?
The US military intercepted a Canadian aircraft.
121.5 MHz, 75 MHz, wing by, the whole bit.
Guess what? they were in CANADA.
Due to a major misunderstanding, US aircraft entered Canada and intercepted a Canadian aircraft.
One digit off on the sectional, one digit off in the computer.
The US Marines entered Mexico and shot a farmer in Baja California.
Baja California the Marines saw, not the little thing about Mexico.
Errors happen all the time.
And, most aircraft have 2 Nav-Comms, but one is in the first ATC and the second is on the next or last, a handoff.
When on approach, one is on the ATC frequency and the other is on approach.
When on the ground, the ATC radio is tuned to the ground control control frequency.
At that point the other radio is tuned to your FBO for tiedown and fuel.
A constant retuning of radios.
Airliners have it a bit easier, as they have dedicated nationwide AM and FM channels.
So, tune 121.5 MHz, when?
With 9/11 came a lot of changes, and one is a very complete handoff from start to finish.
Now, lets say that the aircraft is exactly 5 degree off from one VorTac to approach, one mark on the indicator.
Lets also say that the VorTac in the aircraft is an older unit, something from the 80's or prior, and that is the level of accuracy.
That can be a few miles one way or the other.
Now, lets say that the military is now operating in a given area, anything from Air Force One on down.
The ATC calls off a cleared airspace.
The pilot looks at his charts and instruments and says to himself he is fine.
The military gets a little worried and makes contact.
The easy way for everyone all around is 75 MHz, as this just works.
And, 99% of all air intercepts are just that.
You hear nothing about it, as it is all over before anything happened.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marker_beacon
As you can see, nothing to turn on or tune, the marker beacon receiver is just there, normally powered up as soon as you switch on the essential power bus.
Can you receive a 75 MHz signal and not have problems with the airport beacons? yes.
Remember, the airport beacons are directional, up.
The aiircraft to aircraft transmissions are done with a monopole on the aircraft or a dipole inside the skin of the aircraft, omni directional.
As you can see, the standard power level for a marker beacon transmitter is 3 watts, so 20 watts from an aircraft transmitter is more than enough.
And, most military aircraft do 30 to 512 MHz AM or FM as well as several secure modes, nothing but a keyboard entry away.
The best antenna for scanning aircraft is of course the discone.
Not only is the discone very wide banded, it has a high angle of radiation, what you want for aircraft monitoring.
And, since intercepts happen about once a week around here, San Antonio Texas, I get to hear a bit.
Remember, 99% of all intercepts are just the military making contact, the ATC being advised, the pilot being redirected, and it being all over.
Usually the military aircraft is several miles away when radio contact is made, out of sight of the aircraft in question, same altitude but a bit behind.
And, to answer the question, normally no, the pilot is not in trouble, a quick report and it is all over.
Remember there can be dozens of reasons for an intercept, drug suspect, clearing airspace, navigation error, even ATC error, dozens of reasons.
 
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