Tracking military aircraft?

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DaveNF2G

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There is no real trickery involved in the general inability to track military aircraft. They simply don't enable the location data transmission on their transponders.

The facilities used by the military to track aircraft are totally unrelated to the Mode-S environment, except for the ability to see them via radar.
 

freqhopping

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While you won't be able see them displayed on a map since most don't have ADS-B, you will still know of their presence. That's usually enough for me to be able to find them on the radio. It's matter of knowing when you start receiving the signals at various altitudes.


Generally the only planes without mode-s at all are the bombers and fighters. Occasionally their will be an F-18 with mode-s. Same with F-15s, but mode-s for them is pretty common in the UK.
 
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DaveNF2G

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Tankers and transports are also invisible via Mode-S, along with most of the helicopters.
 

sigint1

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Tankers and transports are also invisible via Mode-S, along with most of the helicopters.

I get Mode S hits all the time on tankers - KC-10 as well as KC-135's as well as U2's out of Beale AFB in northern California - Strangely the U2's usually report their altitude - also get C5/C130's etc.- As mentioned they don't show on the radarbox map as they not using ADS-B but at least you know they are in the area - Can't say I remember seeing a military helicopter though - although again strangely the E6 Mercury TACAMO aircraft frequently use ADS-B - go figure
 

poltergeisty

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So if they can't be tracked with SSR does civilian use primary radar I guess to coordinate aircraft from running into one another? Like when the Blue Angels come out here how do civial operators know where they are? Since they don't use ADS-B how would an F-18 show up on TCAS?
 

737mech

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So if they can't be tracked with SSR does civilian use primary radar I guess to coordinate aircraft from running into one another? Like when the Blue Angels come out here how do civial operators know where they are? Since they don't use ADS-B how would an F-18 show up on TCAS?
They still use the old radar system. Remember ADS-B is new as far as aircraft avionics and technology goes. Mode -S and ADS-B are only functions of a transponder. There are several other ways to track aircraft. Consider the range here at Nellis, they hang pods on the aircraft and track them with a system known as ACMI. I understand the newer version is GPS based where the older version was based on ground tracking stations. Military aircraft don't like to be "tracked" for obvious reasons, but they have IFF and other means to be tracked in peace time in the states. In war time well things are way different.
 

ff-medic

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some military aircraft are trackable, but again they won't let you hear anything they don't want you to so yes some channels are encrypted others are not....
I constantly have military aircraft ( cargo ) fly over my residence at about 10,000 to 12,000 feet. This most generally occurs at night.

My "Internet research" does not show them as in the air.

And I have never heard encrypted radio transmissions, especially with cargo / utility aircraft.


FF - Medic !!!
 
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DaveNF2G

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I get Mode S hits all the time on tankers - KC-10 as well as KC-135's as well as U2's out of Beale AFB in northern California - Strangely the U2's usually report their altitude - also get C5/C130's etc.- As mentioned they don't show on the radarbox map as they not using ADS-B but at least you know they are in the area - Can't say I remember seeing a military helicopter though - although again strangely the E6 Mercury TACAMO aircraft frequently use ADS-B - go figure
I guess my use of the word "invisible" was inaccurate. They do appear on the Mode-S aicraft listing, but they do not map because, as you pointed out, they are not transmitting ADS-B.
 

SCPD

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And I have never heard encrypted radio transmissions, especially with cargo / utility aircraft.

FF - Medic !!!
Most of the time military aircraft use normal in the clear voice radio comms to ATC and their command posts via VHF/UHF/HF modes. You just have to know where to find them. Encrypted modes are usually used on SATCOM.
 

Token

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Consider the range here at Nellis, they hang pods on the aircraft and track them with a system known as ACMI. I understand the newer version is GPS based where the older version was based on ground tracking stations.
ACMI, ARDS, and ARDS II are not general purpose transponder or tracking systems for safety of flight or avoidance applications, such as would be ADS, Mode S, TCASS, etc. ACMI, ARDS, and ARDS II are TSPI (Time Space Position Information) systems that typically have much tighter track tolerances than would be required for safety of flight or air traffic control uses. These systems can give aircraft position, attitude, velocities, and accelerations, at an increased data rate and within a few feet. These are used to accurately plot, map, and model positions to grade and validate testing and training. In other words, one example, if during an exercise one aircraft claims he shot down another in a simulated way this data can be used to confirm that the target aircraft and the targeting system were saying everything was in the same place at the same time, it can confirm or deny (grade) the intercept.

T!
 

airwolfbell222

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About 5 years ago or so, flight aware had a glitch and it turned off all military filtering from the FAA data feed. It was pretty awesome, you could see every military aircraft in the country that was in radar contact. Unfortunately they got it fixed with in an hour or 2 :-(
 

Essexscan

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Wasn't it a week or so ago that a U2 put the wammy on LAX's flight tracking system and shut down flight operations for the day. due to a "Software Glitch". probably somebody switched on Kelly Johnson mode by accident in the U-2 and fried their computers
 
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DaveNF2G

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The reason for the U2 problem was that the aircraft's flight plan indicated too many path crossings over too short of a time period for the FAA's computers to process. I believe it was also complicated by a mistaken assumption about altitude that was built into the programming.
 
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