A Dutchman known only by his first name Huub has received worldwide publicity on the Internet by using Twitter to disclose information about Operation Odyssey Dawn, the international coalition enforcing a no-fly zone over Libya.
All the information was collected using ordinary equipment widely available from amateur radio suppliers. But by using Twitter. his monitoring reports have been able to spread worldwide literally within seconds.
On Monday morning, Huub – username @FMCNL – tweeted:
”Hmmm, second fighter showing his ID, a USAF F-15E from 494FS Lakenheath UK, I presume Gaddafis radar equipment has destroyed :o)”
Earlier, the Dutchman tweeted that two US F-16 fighter jets were en route to a base on the Italian island of Sicily. He also reported that a UK refuelling plane had supplied five Eurofighters with new fuel. That’s information which may not be considered of vital importance to the military operations in Libya, but nevertheless information that the coalition would prefer not to release to the general public.
During a war, the release of any piece of information can have fatal consequences. Yet Huub gives out information lavishly, including the callsigns of coalition jets and their flight movements:
“ PSYOPS is airborne again! USAF EC-130J tail nr 00-1934 call sign STEEL 74 in orbit near Libya at FL250.”
Another interesting tweet sent on Sunday evening: Huub picked up a broadcast from a US Hercules transport plane converted to a flying radio station, which was ordering Libyan ships to stay in port or face destruction.
The use of an American military aircraft to broadcast psychological warfare messages is a well-established and widely-publicised procedure. The transmissions on shortwave 6877 kHz as well as FM, have been widely reported in Europe. They can be heard by anyone with a receiver that can resolve Single Sideband (SSB) transmissions, a standard mode used by amateur radio operators. They come from an aircraft known as Commando Solo, which is operated exclusively by the 193rd Special Operations Wing is based at the Harrisburg International Airport in Middletown, Pennsylvania.
Radio ham and former soldier
Huub is a radio amateur and former soldier currently employed in IT. Huub has emphatically refused to be interviewed and said he would not send any tweets in the coming day. He gave no reason for his decision.
Huub is certainly not the only radio ham trying to follow this kind of operation, but is probably one of the most experienced people in the hobby. Earlier projects of his included following the movements of former Yugoslavian president Slobodan Milosevic. He also succeeded in picking up signals from the US presidential airplane, Air Force One.
He told the magazine Danger Room that he links information freely available on the internet to radio traffic he picks up. “My primary objective is to find out the truth, free of military or political propaganda.”