Monitoring Odyssey Dawn

One of the most memorable DX programs was Radio Nederland’s Media Network presented by the energetic and innovative Jonathan Marks. Both the program and the presenter live on in different guises.

I remember being astounded to hear intercepted military signals from the early hours of the Falklands War being broadcast on the program. Long before crowdsourcing or the internet, Jonathan Marks had a network of highly skilled shortwave enthusiasts and gave them a destination – a tape recorder linked 24/7 to a phone number – where they could leave recordings they had made along with relevant details like time, frequency and identifying callsigns etc. From memory he had sounds of commands being issued by the Argentine Navy to the Belgrano.

After almost 20 years on air the last Media Network was broadcast in 2000. The program morphed into a weblog in the northern spring of 2003 as war broke out in Iraq.
I was reminded of Jonathan Marks’ ingenuity by reports this week of another radio enthusiast based in Holland and how his monitoring activities revealed a US Psyops broadcast as part of the current ‘Odyssey Dawn’ operation in Libya. It was heard on 6877kHz at 0900Z Sunday 20 March.

In fact Jonathan Marks may have been one of the sources of this latest story! It appeared on his Critical Distance blog the day before.

Now in place of Media Network’s phone and cassette recordings, we have blogs, twitter and audioboo! And a torrent of information.

The Milcom Monitoring Post blog is pulling material together including mp3 clips. But the action and spots are moving very fast. The most appropriate tools appears to be twitter feeds. The source of the psyops recording is @FMCNL. Other monitoring tweets come from @MilcomMP and @QSLRptMT, occasionally using hashtags such as #odysseydawn or #libya.

US Marines conduct air strikes in support of Operation Odyssey Dawn

An AV-8B Harrier jump jet returns to USS Kearsarge for fuel and ammunition resupply while conducting air strikes in support of Joint Task Force Odyssey Dawn, March 20, 2011. (USMC/Flickr)

@cencio4 David Cenciotti is an aviation writer and he’s published comprehensively detailed daily ‘debriefings’ of Operation Odyssey Dawn. His writing is clear and military acronyms are de-coded and explained.  The posts on his blog reveal an deeply informed understanding of strategy and a profound knowledge of the aviation industry. His analysis shows how even in the heat of battle there’s some high powered marketing going on!

Here are some of the frequencies that were being monitored in the early stages of the campaign:
4196.0 Naval Military style CWC tracking net USB (American English accents). AGI (3/21 @ 2150 UTC). Early on in Operation Odyssey Dawn that was used as a NATO AWACS tracking net USB: Callsign Magic ##/NATO ##
5725.0 UK Royal Navy CWC-style net USB.
6688.0 French Strategic Air Force Net – Commandement Des Forces Aériennes Stratégiques (CFAS) USB: Callsign Capitol
6712.0 French Air Force Commandement De La Force Aérienne De Projection (CFAP) USB: Callsign: Circus Verte
6733.0 RAF TASCOMM YL weather traffic to Solex 11 a Sentry AEW1 with TAF weather for LCRA RAF
Akrotiri. QSYed to 9019.0 and 9031.0 kHz USB
6761.0 USAF Global refueling Operations USB
6877.0 USAF Psyop transmissions against Libyan Navy + jamming
9019.0 UK RAF TASCOMM USB TAF weather traffic.
9031.0 UK RAF TASCOMM USB Operational Messages + TAF weather traffic
10315.0 DHN 66 NATO Geilenkirchen GER E-3 AWACS/Magic to DHN66 Link USB
12311.0 French Air Force Centre De Conduite Des Opérations Aériennes (CCOA) USB: Callsign Veilleur/AWACS callsign Cyrano.
16160.0 French Air Force up with voice and RATT on 16160 kHz USB.
Libyan GMMRA HF ALE network was still active as of 3/21/2011 on 5368.0 6884.0 8200.0 9375.0 10125.0 10404.0.

Seems like a good time to sign up for and account with www.globaltuners.com to get my radio ears a little closer to the action. If you follow any of the twitter accounts mentioned above you will have no shortage of up to the minute details of air (and radio) traffic to follow.

Stephen Rapley, VK2RH, is a regular contributor to AmateurRadio.com and writes from New South Wales, Australia. Contact him at [email protected].

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