The U.S. Air Force Is Tearing Down a Giant Spy Antenna: ’Elephant cages’ are a dying breed
The U.S. Air Force has started tearing down a massive antenna in Japan. Once used to scan airwaves around the world, these systems have become obsolete as countries change how they communicate.
On Oct. 15, workers began removing the antenna—designated AN/FLR-9—at Misawa air base in Japan. The demolition has been on the flying branch’s agenda for more than a year now.
“Technology and fiscal constraints have driven Misawa Security Operations Center to seek new ways of doing business,” Col. Joseph Winters told Air Force reporters. The antenna—which is almost 1,500 feet wide—should be completely gone by the end of 2015.
Misawa’s system was one of eight AN/FLR-9s the Pentagon built in the United States, Europe and the Pacific during the 1960s. The site actually has three concentric rings of smaller antennae, hence the popular “elephant cage” nickname.
The Mighty KBC’s Giant Jukebox is chock-full of rock-n-roll and Euro-pop variety, spanning the decades. DJ “Uncle Eric” never disappoints.
If band conditions are as good as last night, you should be able to hear The Mighty KBC quite easily tonight.
In the meantime, here’s a recording from last week to wet your appetite:
Last night, band conditions were superb above 7 MHz. Both the 31 and 25 meter bands seemed crowded with stations; for a moment, it felt like a true solar peak.
This morning, solar flares have dampened down the excitement but I imagine conditions could favorably change at times this weekend, so stay tuned!
I recorded the entire 25M band for a couple of hours yesterday evening and a large portion of the 31 meter band throughout the night. Fortunately, I had just invested in another Western Digital Caviar Green 3 TB SATA drive, so there was ample space to make these (very) large recordings. I think this brings my overall spectrum storage up to 12 TB!?!
I love the fact that these SDR band captures will make for good listening sometime this winter when the sun isn’t being so cooperative. I liken it to radio time travel, but I believe David Goren (of shortwaveology.net) said it best in a comment he posted in “Confessions of an SDRaholic: when 4.5 terabytes is not enough“:
“My approach to recording SDR band captures is like assembling a collection of fine wines. I tend to record captures when there are unusual propagational openings…and while recording a whole swath of frequencies for an hour or so you can still tune around and make discoveries and even record them singly.. And then once the capture is done, you have it as long as you want to keep it.. So, on a static-y summers day I can go to the shelf and pull down “Ye Olde Auroral MW Opening 10/15/11? or “Hot Bolivian evening on 60 meters.” and I can make discoveries to my heart’s content. Since I can listen to an hour’s worth of each frequency it will take a long time to exhaust the potential of any particular capture, esp. with the ability to refilter and change. multiple parameters of reception.”
See? (I tell my wife) I’m simply building my collection of fine wines!
Below, you’ll find some of the stations I logged last night (actually, this morning in UTC).
31 meter band beginning 00:00 UTC, 25 OCT 2014
- 9410 BBC English Nakhon Sawan
- 9420 ERT Open/VOG Greek
- 9455 China National Radio 1 Chinese
- 9470 AIR National Channel Hindi/English (vy wk)
- 9475 WTWW English
- 9510 China Radio International Russian
- 9520 PBS Nei Menggu Chinese AND Radio Romania International Romanian
- 9565 Radio Tupi/Super Radio Deus e Amor Portuguese (QRM from CRI 9570)
- 9570 China Radio International English
- 9586 Super Radio Deus e Amor Portuguese
- 9590 China Radio International Spanish
- 9630 Radio Aparecida Portuguese
- 9645 Radio Bandeirantes Portuguese
- 9660 Radio Taiwan International Chinese
- 9665 China National Radio 5 Chinese or possibly KCBS Pyongyang Korean
- 9690 All India Radio English
- 9700 Radio Romania International English
- 9705 All India Radio English
- 9710 China Radio International Portuguese
- 9730 Adventist World Radio Manumanaw Karen or possibly 9730 Myanmar Radio Burmese
- 9740 BBC English (vy weak)
- 9800 China Radio International Spanish
- 9810 Radio Havana Cuba Spanish
- 9820 Radio 9 de Julho Portuguese
- 9855 Voice of America Tibetan
- 9860 Voice of Islamic Rep. of Iran Spanish
- 9870 AIR New Delhi Hindi
- 9880 Voice of America Chinese (vy weak)
- 9935 ERT Open, VOG Greek
- 9965 Radio Cairo Arabic
- 10000 WWV Ft. Collins
25 meter band beginning 0100 UTC, 25 OCT 2014
- 11520 EWTN (WEWN) English
- 11580 SOH Xi Wang Zhi Sheng Chinese/Cantonese
- 11590 Radio Japan Hindi (vy weak)
- 11620 China National Radio 5 Chinese
- 11640 Radio Free Asia Uyghur
- 11650 China Radio International Chinese
- 11670 Radio Havana Cuba Spanish
- 11695 Radio Free Asia Tibetan
- 11710.7 Radio Cairo Spanish (transmitter noise)
- 11760 Radio Havana Cuba Spanish
- 11780 Radio Nacional da Brasilia Portuguese
- 11825 Bro Stair
- 11840 Radio Havana Cuba Spanish
- 11855 Radio Aparecida Portuguese
- 11870 EWTN (WEWN) Spanish
- 11905 Sri Lanka BC English/Hindi
- 11955 Radio Romania International French
- 12020 VoA Deewa Radio Pashto
- 12025 UNID
- 12070 Radio Cairo Spanish (jammed or transmitter noise?)
- 12105 WTWW Spanish
If you were listening to the 31 meter band last night in North America, you would have heard a very strong ERT Open (Voice of Greece) back on their long-established frequency of 9420 kHz.
Only yesterday, I posted a note about ERT’s apparent move to 9415 kHz to avoid interference with the IRIB. Seems they changed their mind.
Indeed, conditions were superb last night and bands were wide open above 7 MHz. ERT was broadcasting on 9420 and 9935 kHz and both were strong (S9+).
I’m very curious if ERT will remain on 9420 or move back to 9415 kHz during the week. I suppose time will tell.
(Source: The Guardian via Andy Sennitt)
The Rwandan government has suspended all BBC radio broadcasts in Rwanda’s most common language to protest against the news organisation’s recent documentary about the 1994 genocide in the country.
President Paul Kagame’s government, members of parliament and genocide survivors have expressed their anger at the BBC over the recent documentary that suggested the country’s president may have had a hand shooting down his predecessor’s plane, a crash that triggered the mass killings.
Its hour-long documentary, Rwanda, The Untold Story, also quoted US researchers who suggested that many of the more than 800,000 Rwandans who died in the 1994 genocide may have been ethnic Hutus, and not ethnic Tutsis as the Rwandan government maintains.
Late on Friday, the Rwandan Utilities Regulatory Authority announced the suspension of the BBC’s broadcasts in the local language, Kinyarwanda. The board said it took the action because it has received complaints of “incitement, hatred, divisionism, genocide denial and revision” from the public. It said further action could be taken.
The BBC had defended the film on Friday, saying it had a “duty to investigate difficult and challenging subjects”.
Many listeners have noticed that the former Voice of Greece (ERT Open) has moved from 9,420 kHz to 9,415 kHz. This must be due to interference from the Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting (IRIB) who has been transmitting on 9420 kHz as well.
Here in North America, even when IRIB was broadcasting simultaneously on 9420 kHz, VOG always overpowered their signal. In other parts of the world, though, it was not the same case.
I’m happy VOG/ERT is still on shortwave and broadcasting to the world–though no one really knows for how much longer.
I recorded about one hour of VOG on 9,415 kHz, starting around 0045 UTC today. Enjoy:
In response to our post Uncovering Wullenweber’s “Elephant Cages,” Mike comments:
Sometime back around 2005-2009, I was doing maintenance on a NOAA climate station near Bondville, IL, and noticed several tall utility poles in the distance. As I figured they looked suspiciously like an antenna array, I asked the site caretaker (it was University of Illinois Champaign-Urbana farm) what they were. He happily took me to see what was left of the original Wullenweber test site, built under contract for the US government for testing by Dr. Hayden. All that remained then was several utility poles, and some transmission line sticking out of the ground.
I’ve also seen the Navy’s array at Imperial Beach, CA (near San Diego), down the highway from the SEAL base, and it’s very impressive. It’s clearly visible from the highway, and though I’ve read it was supposed to come down years ago, its still standing. Makes me wonder if it’s still in use.
Another interesting site I’ve seen is outside of Barrow, Alaska. Near remnants of the DEW Line is a joint USAF/FAA radar station, with a single white domed antenna. I don’t remember exactly, but pretty close to it is what looks to me like a “mini” Elephant Cage. From what I recall, it was a single ring of fairly short towers, surrounding a small central building. When I asked about the facility, I was only told it belonged to an “unnamed agency.”
The first 2 are clearly visible from the following link, while the Barrow site doesn’t stand out enough to be obvious in the Google images.
Click on the “markers” button in the lower right to jump to all the sites: http://tinyurl.com/k5jhxuv
Many thanks, Mike!