A GUIDE FOR LISTENING IN TO MILITARY BROADCASTS
NOTE: THIS IS COMPLETELY LEGAL AND IS SHARED FOR THE SOLE PURPOSE OF ASSISTING WITH CONFLICT RESEARCH
A radio technology called WebSDR allows absolutely anyone with an internet connection to listen to and tune in their own radio receiver. Different receivers are tuned to different frequency ranges. This guide will show you how to use WebSDR to tune into military broadcasts. This can be incredibly useful when researching and tracking various ongoing conflicts around the world.
For the purpose of this Popular Front guide we'll use an antenna located in the Netherlands. You can find it online here.
If everything is working properly you'll hear static through your speakers when you're on the website. Scroll down until you can see the full control panel and what’s known as the "Waterfall".
The control panel and the Waterfall
For this example, we'll tune in to the United States Air Force’s global radio network. It’s usually pretty quiet, but if you monitor it for long periods of time, you’ll eventually hear something (we’ll get to that later).
Box 1 (image above)
This is the radio’s current frequency. Click the box and type: 8992. This is the kHz frequency (many different frequencies can be found if you search online or check here).
Click "Max in" to zoom the waterfall display in. This dark blue background will show pink representations of any noise that happens on the frequency. These are the spikes to listen out for.
Squelch eliminates the static noise, but allows stronger transmissions (like a broadcast) to come through.
With those three tasks accomplished, you are monitoring the USAF radio net.
WHAT TO LISTEN FOR
Emergency Action Messages (EAM)
This is a coded message sent out to one of potentially many recipients. The format is a 5-digit code (repeated five times), followed by the message itself. Typically messages are 32 characters and are repeated once, but sometimes have reached into the 150+ character range. We don’t know what they mean, that much is classified, but it’s interesting nonetheless.
These are high-priority messages that are sent to all nuclear forces committed to the national nuclear defence plan (Strategic Deterrence and Force Employment) which are copied down by the aforementioned forces. A Skyking message contains much less data than a standard EAM. The typical format is "Skyking, Skyking. Do not answer: [CODE WORD] Time [MM] Authentication [XX]", which is repeated, followed by the callsign of the sender and a sign-off.
Sometimes other messages come across this frequency. They can be anything from an aircraft performing a radio check to emergency messages from aircraft in distress.
Additional frequencies for listening to USAF operations can be found here.
For radio frequencies of other countries, try here.
Hear a strange noise and want to identify it? Check this handy guide out.
Follow Aram Shabanian on Twitter: @aramshabanian