The U.S. military has dispatched one of its secret propaganda planes to the skies around Libya. And that “Commando Solo” aircraft is telling Libyan ships to remain in port – or risk NATO retaliation.
We know this, not because some Pentagon official said so, but because one Dutch radio geek is monitoring the airwaves for information about Operation Odyssey Dawn — and tweeting the surprisingly-detailed results. On Sunday alone, “Huub” has identified the tail numbers, call signs, and movements of dozens of NATO aircraft: Italian fighter jets, American tankers, British aerial spies, U.S. bombers, and the Commando Solo psyops plane (pictured).
“If you attempt to leave port, you will be attacked and destroyed immediately,” the aircraft broadcasted late Sunday night.
It’s the kind of information that the American military typically tries to obscure, at least until a mission is over. But Huub is just a single node in a sprawling online network that trawls the airwaves for clues to military operations.
Huub, also known online as “BlackBox” and @FMCNL, has been monitoring longer than most — more than a quarter-century. A former member of the Dutch military, he says that he’s captured the sounds of everything from Air Force One to CIA rendition flights to the travels of Yugoslavian war criminal Slobodan Mlosevic.
“I just combine the global and free information on the Internet with my local received information from the ether,” Huub e-mails Danger Room. “[My] main goal to listen to this communication is to listen to ‘the truth,’ without any military or political propaganda.”
Military aircraft have to provide basic information about their position over unencrypted, unclassified UHF and VHF radio networks; otherwise, they’d risk slamming into civilian jets in mid-air. That allows savvy listeners like Huub to use radio frequency scanners, amplifiers, and antennas to capture the communications. Some spend thousands of dollars homebrewing their own DIY listening stations. Many others – Huub included – rely on handheld gear, much of which can be ordered through Radio Shack. Huub uses the ICOM R20 receiver and the Uniden UBC-785XLT scanner, both of which retail for a little more than $500.
Sites to get Military Comm information
- US providing ‘unique capabilities’ to the Libya mission (cnn.com)
- Amateur radio sleuths intercept US psyops messages to Libya (audio) (boingboing.net)
- Listen: Secret Libya Psyops, Caught by Online Sleuths. (planenews.com)