Scanner Glossary

This glossary of code words and phrases used in radio transmissions around Area 51 may be useful if you monitor the airwaves. Especially during Red Flag exercises it will help you figure out when and from where to expect the teams and what's going on. Thanks to Military Aviation and Black Program Researcher Richard Cliff for his help.

Related links:

go Active - Crew switching to HAVE QUICK Communications
Airboss - Supervisor of the war games, usually on 277.8 MHz
Alligator - LINK-11 or TADIL-A net, on HF or UHF. This is the link between land, air, sea and subsurface communications for the overall air picture and is transmitted to the C2 or 'Command and Control'
Apex - Fix for arriving flights at Nellis AFB, Runway 21. Nellis 025 degree radial at 09 miles
Arco - Fix for arriving flights at Nellis AFB, Runway 21. Nellis 355 degree radial at 30 miles
AWACS - Airborne Warning And Control System. More information click here
Bandit - Hostile aircraft
BDA - Bomb Damage Assessment / Battle Damage Assessment
Bear Paw - Dry lake bed in Railroad Valley, north of Hwy. 375
Belted Peak - Between Chalk Mountain and Reville Peak, about 15 miles west of Rachel
Bingo - Aircraft calling 'Bingo Fuel' are now unable to play due to fuel status being too low. The aircraft only has enough fuel to Return to Base (RTB) safely
Blackjack - Ground control for exercises
blind - Aircraft engaging blind (not visual) or striking blind (cloud cover perhaps covering target) or communicating blind which is transmitting without response heard
Bogie - An aircraft not yet identified as friendly or hostile: "Bogie bullseye 0-7-6, 23" (unidentified aircraft, possibly hostile, direction 76 degrees, 23 miles from target)
the Box - Restricted Airspace over Groom Lake
BRA - Short for Bearing, Range, Altitude; determined either by Bullseye or individual CAP or aircraft: "Hostiles BRA 265 for 45 2000ft FAST" (enemy at heading 265 degrees, 45 miles, 2000 ft altitude, fast moving)
break - Hard turn to left or right for example to take emegency action: "Snake one break right. Break right SAM launch!" (player 'Snake one' to turn a HARD right to take evasive action against an incoming SAM launched at his aircraft)
Buddy Spike - Friendly player indicated on the Radar Warning Receiver (RWR): "Snake one buddy Spike 240 45 35000" (Friendly on RWR with BRA indication)
Bullseye - Reference point for all players of a team during a mission, usually changes between missions. Bullseye is not the target, but only a reference point, that is used for orientation by all players of the same team. Its coordinates are given once at the beginning of an exercise on a secure channel, and are unknown to the other team: "Snake one, bullseye 0-7-6, 23, 10,000 (or 2-1-5)" (player 'Snake one' is 23 miles from the reference point, direction 76 degrees, altitude 10,000 ft. (or 21,500 ft.))
CAP - Combat Air Patrol. Arranging fighters in a defensive or offensive role at various altitudes and configurations to counter an enemy attack
CAPPING - Aircraft involved in Combat Air Patrols (CAPs) are CAPPERS or are actually involved in CAPPING: "HITMAN flight now CAPPING between Alpha 1 and 6" (HITMAN formation has now commenced CAP at Waypoint 1 through to 6)
Chick - Friendly aircraft about to refuel or trailing behind a tanker, commonly referred to as 'Receiver': "MAGIC 88 this is ESSO 74, I have 6 chicks trailing" (Tanker ESSO 74 has 6 fighters trailing behind in formation waiting for fuel)
cold - Flying slow or subsonic: "Snake one, bullseye 0-7-6, 23, cold"
Commit - Crew can now engage or commit the interception/strike
the Container - Restricted Airspace over Groom Lake, see 'the Box'
Craig Ranch - Fix for arriving flights at Nellis AFB, Runway 03
dead - Was hit by another player, ground control to plane: "Snake one is dead"
DMPI - Designated Mean Point of Impact / Desired Mean Point of Impact
drag - A maneuver to slow down the enemy: the lead takes the fast track usualy straight ahead while the wingmen either DRAG left or right and distract the enemy by slowing down
Elvis' house or where Elvis lives - Groom Lake Base, Area 51: "The dry lake bed south of Bald Mtn. is where Elvis lives" during Red Flag orientation flight
the Farms - Alfalfa farms west of Rachel, also used for the Rachel area
Fight's on, Fight's on - Start attack run during air exercises, air controller to players
Flares - Pyrotechnic magnesium or phosphorous devices ejected from tactical aircraft to decoy heat-seeking missiles
Flight Level - Altitude: "Snake one, flight level 2-1-0" (player 'snake one' is flying at an altitude of 21,000 ft.)
Fox One - Call made by an attacking fighter to friendly forces to warn of a radar-guided missile launch
Fox Two - Warning call for heat-seeking missile launch
fragged - As flight plan; such as 'on time' or no problem; going as flight plan requires
friendly - Refers to a player of the same team, AWACS to planes: "Contact, bullseye 0-7-6, 23, friendly" (player of the same team direction 76 degrees, 23 miles from target)
Fur Ball - Group of planes from different teams fighting, AWACS to planes: "Fur ball over the farms"
Gumby - (sometimes "Gumby Control"), used in comms with Groom Tower for DOE(?) Ops on site; "Control, this is Apple 3, would you pass along a message to Gumby that we have 'Hotel Alpha 8935' on board" (likely a VIP)
Have Quick - Type of secure net for chatting within NATO aircraft. Done so by Have Quick system channel hopping (switching frequencies every few seconds within the whole UHF spectrum)
hostile - Refers to a player of the enemy team, AWACS to planes: "Contact, bullseye 0-7-6, 23, hostile" (enemy player direction 76 degrees, 23 miles from target)
hot - Flying fast or supersonic: "Snake one, bullseye 0-7-6, 23, hot"
Hot Mike - Clear UHF radio communications (same as Hotel Mike)
Hotel Mike - Clear UHF radio communications (same as Hot Mike)
IFF - Identification Friend or Foe. A radio system that broadcasts specific bits of data on demand by compatible systems that interrogate the system. The data are usually identification, altitude and airspeed.
Illuminate - Radar or laser lock on target
Keyhole - Used for Janet routing; a condition when Janets are diverted from their normal route across the NNSS to Groom to a more southern route, likely to avoid overflying the main part of the NNSS; routing JAYSN-STYME-DRRLA instead of JAYSN-WSKEE-BGZEE: "Keyhole is in effect, proceed JAYSN-STYME-DRRLA"
knock it off - Abort attack, same as 'terminate': "Snake one, knock it off"
Leaker - Airborne hostile identified as a serious threat that has penetrated the defensive boundary or box either to the intended target area or aircraft: "This is MAGIC 88, MAGIC 88, we have a Leaker inbound MAGIC...priority intercept" (MAGIC 88 broadcasting to the nearest friendlies that a Leaker has penetrated the defensive net and is intercepting the AWACS "Magic")
Miller Time - End of exercise (for a particular team)
naked - Aircraft has NO RWR signal indications; opposite to SPIKE: "Snake one threat BRA 240 for 48, 7000" "Snake two naked" (Snake one tells his wingman of threat and BRA but wingman (two) has no indication of the threat on the RWR)
no joy - Anything to do with no target or miss, usually said when target is covered or unable to target: "Snake one, no joy on target" (either cloud has covered target or target unable to be targetted by some other restriction)
No Name - Halligan Mesa, about 15 miles north-east of Basecamp
notching - Flying through a gap (notch) in a mountain range
painted - Detect or track a target: "HITMAN 1 Target is painted" (Hitman 1 has now locked on or detected threat with radar)
Parrot - IFF Transponder. A transmitter that can be interrogated to identify a BOGIE as part of the friendly or hostile forces
Picture - Situation of the area controlled by AWACS. Pictures are given out to players being controlled and tells them the overall area situation
press - Begin attack, ground to plane: "Snake one, press south"
push - Change frequency: "Cobra push three-six-three point nine" (Cobra change to frequency 363.9 MHz) or "Cobra push [channel] eight" (Cobra change to preprogrammed channel eight)
the Ranch - Restricted airspace over Groom Lake, older term, see 'the Box'
RTB - "Return To Base", orders planes to return to Nellis AFB after the exercise, ground to plane: "Snake one, RTB"
Sanitise - Searching for threat using sensors only in the local area.
Snake - Callsign for Nellis based aircraft: "Snake one ..."
spike - Aircraft has a RWR signal indication; opposite to NAKED: "Snake one threat BRA 240 for 48, 7000" "Snake two spike" (Snake one tells his wingman of threat and BRA and wingman (two) acknowledges indication of the threat on the RWR)
splash - Target destroyed (air-air) or impact for ground strike
Strike Package - Bombers and their fighter escort
Stranger - Aircraft in the area or on radar that is NOT participating in the exercise
Strikers - Bombers
Student Gap - Pahroc Summit Pass, on Hwy. 93 between Crystal Springs and Caliente
Tally [Ho] - Visual on the target with the eye only: "Snake one Tally on target" or "Snake one Tally Ho on target"
Tango Mike - Digital communications (air-ground via telemetry data?)
terminate - Abort attack, same as 'knock it off': "Snake one, terminate"
Texaco - More general term for tanker planes, used by NATO
Texas Lake - Dry lake bed about 13 miles east Alamo; the aggressor team usually sets up formation here before flying an attack
Tiger Fast - Aircraft has enough fuel to do a supersonic engagement and still have fuel to RTB: "Snake one, tiger fast"
Tiger Slow - Aircraft only has enough fuel to do a subsonic engagement and still have fuel to RTB: "Snake one, tiger slow"
no Timber - Unable to establish "Link 16" data link
trail - In formation dragging behind: "ESSO 74 has 6 chicks in trail" (Tanker "ESSO 74" has 6 fighters trailing behind him about to take fuel)

USAF AWACS callsigns:

Home Base
963rd AACS of the 552nd ACWSHUCK ##CHALICETinker AFB, Oklahoma
964th AACS of the 552nd ACWSHUCK ##BANDSAWTinker AFB, Oklahoma
965th AACS of the 552nd ACWSHUCK ##DARKSTARTinker AFB, Oklahoma
966th AACS of the 552nd ACWSHUCK ##DRAGNETTinker AFB, Oklahoma
970th AACS of the 513th ACGSCOUT ##THUMPERTinker AFB, Oklahoma
NATO AWACSNATO ##MAGIC ##Geilenkirchen AB, Germany
RAF AWACSNATO ##MAGIC ##RAF Waddington, Great Britain

AACS - Airborne Air Control Squadron
ACG - Air Control Group
ACW - Air Control Wing
AWACS - Airborne Warning And Control System
Backend - Battlestaff Controller

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