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Questions for you military guys.

Sprocket

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I spend a lot of time on Flightradar24 just because I think it is fascinating to know where planes are from and going to. No military aircraft are visible. Why is that? I can understand in a war zone the need to not be seen. Would it not be advisable to be seen unless you are going to bomb somewhere in the U.S.?

With all the concern of near misses and collisions with drones I think the military should be visible on all flights in the country.

I also think all commercial and private planes and helicopters should be transmitting a frequency that could be readily received. Couldn't your drone have a receiver built in it that could relay information on nearby aircraft to the remote controller and alert the drone pilot? Maybe too expensive? Thanks
 
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Chirp

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Being a veteran as an MP in the army gives me no help to answer your question but as a private pilot it's probable that military planes are required to squawk different codes than civilian aircraft on their transponder. I would guess that ATC can see both civil and military squawks but civilian sites like the one you mention only show the civilian. Once again I am guessing. Thanks for the headsup on the Flightradar24. I will check it out..
 

Sprocket

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Being a veteran as an MP in the army gives me no help to answer your question but as a private pilot it's probable that military planes are required to squawk different codes than civilian aircraft on their transponder. I would guess that ATC can see both civil and military squawks but civilian sites like the one you mention only show the civilian. Once again I am guessing. Thanks for the headsup on the Flightradar24. I will check it out..
You're probably right on the squawking on different codes, but it would seem to me that if everybody squawked the same codes then everybody can see everybody else.
 

beachcombing

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Even though they aren't "in a war zone", the military does not want unauthorized persons tracking the movement of aircraft. It should be pretty obvious that this is for security reasons.
 
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Sprocket

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Even though they aren't "in a war zone", the military does not want unauthorized persons tracking the movement of aircraft. It should be pretty obvious that this is for security reasons.
No. It's not obvious. If they are on a low level training flight, or, heading to or from an airshow or flyover of a ballgame or anyother non defensive flight then they need to be squawking on common frequencies. They are supposedly so concerned about a drone mashing into them then they should be discoverable to the public. Tell me why they have to be stealthy for any of the flight types I gave.

The same should be said of all civil aircraft. Squawk and be seen or don't fly.
 
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RiKToR

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Not in the Military here but I have attended a few workshops with a commercial drone guy here in Phoenix. He happens to know the base commander out at Luke Air Force Base where they do most of the F-16 flight training. He asked about flying his drone commercially around the base and he was told that unlike airliners; the jets there come in on a steep approach. If he is staying under 400ft AGL then there would be no problems. So they really don't care about drones flying around here affecting their aircraft. The only concerns they have are with drones inside the base which are absolutely going to get anyone in trouble (for obvious reasons).

Regarding why they wouldn't want the traffic known, I agree with what said about that they don't want anyone to know about the movement of aircraft. I have seen this first hand where Luke sent up flares to distract the public from an aircraft that was flying east of the city with its running lights on. Hippys will tell you that "The Phoenix Lights" were a mass UFO sighting, but having seen the two separate instances of lights (the flares the Luke admits to and the 'V' shaped lights that caused the ruckess) I can tell you that a B-2 Stealth bomber is very quiet and very distinct in the sky at night. Some pilot probably got in serious trouble for flying with their running lights on.
 

gnirtS

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I spend a lot of time on Flightradar24 just because I think it is fascinating to know where planes are from and going to. No military aircraft are visible. Why is that?
FR24 has a policy of blocking military flights on there.

Blocking
For security and privacy reasons information about some aircraft is limited or blocked. This includes most military aircraft and certain high profile aircraft, like Air Force One.
(Flightradar24.com - Live flight tracker!)

They also block everything on the FAA privacy list so a large amount of military and private aircraft won't show.

The other issue is a lot of military aircraft don't have ADS-B so wouldnt show. Fr24 does have MLAT coverage in some areas but its nowhere near good enough to detect large numbers of planes worldwide using that method...plus as above, its blocked anyway. (Large numbers of GA, small commercial and other aircraft also dont have ADS-B so wont be shown, especially low altitude ones).

There are uncensored feeds out there which DO show all of that but Fr24 has taken the decision to block nearly all that.

The same should be said of all civil aircraft. Squawk and be seen or don't fly.
They do squawk and can be seen by SSR. However squawk is simply altitude and a radar return ping not a position. ADS-B is completely different to a squawk and lots of military aircraft aren't fitted with or don't use it. Its not a primary ATC method in the slightest.
With enough receivers spread around using the timing delays you CAN triangulate the position of an aircraft just squawking Mode C (Currently watching 2 x AH64 Apaches operate low level over a range at night here doing just that) but it needs lots of receivers and coverage isnt great for that. Civil radars can see them just fine though.
...but Fr24 block them anyway.
 
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gnirtS

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You're probably right on the squawking on different codes, but it would seem to me that if everybody squawked the same codes then everybody can see everybody else.
Not sure you understand what a transponder squawk is. Its simply a return in response to a query ping from a SSR. The squawk itself is a 4 digit number (0-7) which often defines the originating or control sector or special codes such as conspicuous, hijack and so on. Mode-C also encodes altitude in the reply if selected.
"Different codes" mean nothing. Its all the same thing, same method, same frequency. If everyone "squawked the same codes" ATC would have a nightmare with a screen full of aircraft all with the same identifier - good luck picking that mess apart.
There's nothing in a transponder that sends a location (other than altitude in C and other modes). It listens for a ping from a secondary radar, when it gets one it spits back the squawk code and maybe altitude and thats it. No more.

ADS-B is completely different given its an active system that embeds position and other data and is constantly sent regardless of radar queries. PART of the ADS-B data stream can be the squawk code if sent. ADS-B isn't used as a primary means of air traffic control. Large numbers of aircraft both civilian, military and commercial aren't equipped for it. It can be fused with other TCAS data to provide collision avoidance between aircraft though.

No. It's not obvious. If they are on a low level training flight, or, heading to or from an airshow or flyover of a ballgame or anyother non defensive flight then they need to be squawking on common frequencies. They are supposedly so concerned about a drone mashing into them then they should be discoverable to the public. Tell me why they have to be stealthy for any of the flight types I gave.
Most/All military aircraft will be operating their transponder so perfectly visible to ATC radar. Those that ARE fitted with ADS-B (a minority of them) will likely be broadcasting that as well. However, Fr24 and other sites filter and block the military. This is Fr24 decision not the military.
If it bothers you, spend $15 for a DVB-T dongle and use it as an ADS-B decoder. Then you can see all the local traffic using it regardless of company policy blocks through commercial tracking sites.
 

beachcombing

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or anyother non defensive flight then they need to be squawking on common frequencies.
EVERY flight they engage in is mission essential. Training or otherwise. And just because they aren't publicizing it for you to see, doesn't mean their flights aren't visible to those who have a need to know.
 

gnirtS

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EVERY flight they engage in is mission essential. Training or otherwise. And just because they aren't publicizing it for you to see, doesn't mean their flights aren't visible to those who have a need to know.
Most of them equipped and able ARE publicising it for anyone to see. Just the blocking policy of Fr24, Flightaware and others means you dont see it. Build your own receiver or use an uncensored feed and plenty of them are there.
Saw 2 x F35, several F15s, typhoons, 2 P8 Orions and others going about their business a few hours ago. This isn't a military problem, its a private company policy.
 

Sprocket

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EVERY flight they engage in is mission essential. Training or otherwise. And just because they aren't publicizing it for you to see, doesn't mean their flights aren't visible to those who have a need to know.
Where did I say it was nonessential. I am just saying that unless they are going to bomb Kansas City or somewhere in the States then they have no need to be stealthy. When and if they do need to be invisible then turn off whatever gives their location away.
 

gnirtS

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...which oddly enough if exactly what they do.
In civilian airspace they do exactly as any other aircraft does. Transponder for sure, mode S if fitted. Visible to everyone that needs to see them.
(incidentally its a lesson the US navy should learn, especially its pacific fleet)
 

TurboMech

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Where did I say it was nonessential. I am just saying that unless they are going to bomb Kansas City or somewhere in the States then they have no need to be stealthy. When and if they do need to be invisible then turn off whatever gives their location away.
What part of FR24 is the one that is blocking the military flights do you not understand? They are visible to other aircraft and ATC, just not visible on your app...
 

neggy

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Most of the flight tracking websites are delayed so as to protect specific aircraft from being targeted.

They are useless for anything more than basic hobbyist info
 

Viciam

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these days the f-15 and f-16 r stealth and the radar can not pick up
 

Turn11

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Thanks @gnirtS for the insight on more modern capabilities.
I was on a US Navy submarine (WWII diesel and the USS George Washington) '60 - '70. IFF was our initial method of communications to aircraft. Not nearly the same as this thread but you were extremely informative, Thanks
 

gadio4533

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Not sure you understand what a transponder squawk is. Its simply a return in response to a query ping from a SSR. The squawk itself is a 4 digit number (0-7) which often defines the originating or control sector or special codes such as conspicuous, hijack and so on. Mode-C also encodes altitude in the reply if selected.
"Different codes" mean nothing. Its all the same thing, same method, same frequency. If everyone "squawked the same codes" ATC would have a nightmare with a screen full of aircraft all with the same identifier - good luck picking that mess apart.
There's nothing in a transponder that sends a location (other than altitude in C and other modes). It listens for a ping from a secondary radar, when it gets one it spits back the squawk code and maybe altitude and thats it. No more.

ADS-B is completely different given its an active system that embeds position and other data and is constantly sent regardless of radar queries. PART of the ADS-B data stream can be the squawk code if sent. ADS-B isn't used as a primary means of air traffic control. Large numbers of aircraft both civilian, military and commercial aren't equipped for it. It can be fused with other TCAS data to provide collision avoidance between aircraft though.



Most/All military aircraft will be operating their transponder so perfectly visible to ATC radar. Those that ARE fitted with ADS-B (a minority of them) will likely be broadcasting that as well. However, Fr24 and other sites filter and block the military. This is Fr24 decision not the military.
If it bothers you, spend $15 for a DVB-T dongle and use it as an ADS-B decoder. Then you can see all the local traffic using it regardless of company policy blocks through commercial tracking sites.
As a former controller, you are spot on. One of the few common codes are 1200 which is vfr. There are a few others such as hijack but most are unique idetifiers.
 

gnirtS

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1200 maybe for the US, not elsewhere.
Most places in europe (and asia that i know of) just use 7000 conspicuous code for VFR (and often reassigned if requested a radar or other information service in controlled airspace).

But yes anyway, this is nothing to do with the military hiding and everything to do with Fr24 and flightaware censoring.
Quite happily tracked AF1 and the supporting SAM flights on private trackers whereas Fr24 it "didnt exist".

People need to realise public flight trackers aren't any use at all for seeing if its safe to fly a drone or not. Im seeing more and more people using them thinking they're accurate.
 
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