Groom Lake uses an old EDACS trunk radio system with voice channel DES encryption. I managed to get a shot of one of the radios and identified it as a
GE MRK. The trunk control channel is not encrypted, which goes to show you how old the system is. All the frequencies are known. You can look them up
on radioreference.com. Some of the locations for the transmitters on radioreference are not correct, not that it matters much.
With encryption on the voice channel, about all you can do is "traffic analysis" on the talk groups. Traffic analysis is generally the first step in
SIGINT, though for Groom Lake, it is also the last step due to encryption. Basically you can log the time that the trunk groups are used, or even
particular radios. Presumably unusual chatter might mean a test is about to take place, but I haven't found that to be the case. That is, I never
found a correlation between trunk radio traffic and an aircraft mission channel being in use, but my sampling has been very limited since I don't live
by the range. For highly secure communications, you always use the radio frequency even if you have nothing to say. That is, periodic chatter on the
frequency defeats traffic analysis. [I'm told much of the EAS on GHFC is just coded BS messaged just to keep everyone trained on the system, and also
to defeat traffic analysis.]
The decoded talk groups look like this:
Unfortunately, there isn't anyone living in Rachel with enough technical skill to monitor the system for a long enough period to prove conclusively if
traffic analysis is useful or not.
Now the presence of this EDACS system at Base Camp and Nellis proved conclusively that those facilities are associated with Groom Lake. Thus
identifying the parameters of the control channel is useful, which of course is why they use encrypted control channels for facilities with really
tight security. The fact Groom uses this junky EDACS system shows that they don't have the mythical unlimited budget the armchair googlers believe, or
the users of the trunk system aren't all that important. Maintaining those old radios is a total pain since the programming software runs on DOS using
a real serial port and a klunky RIB (radio interface box). Thus you need to keep an old PC alive for programming.
Nellis is also a user of a P-16 trunk radio system shared with the Nevada Test Site. There is no encryption on the control channel, and the voice
channels are not encrypted either. Groom Lake, to the best of my knowledge, has never used the P-16 system.
Recently a P-25 system has shown up at the range.Actually two P-25 systems, but one is part of the the 380MHz emergency system the DoD is setting up.
The federal band P-25 system is transmitting messages from "bird dog", which is the operations callsign for the Nevada Test Site. The P-25 system has
interference from the P-16 system. Thus my suspicion is the P-16 system is going to be replaced with the P-25 system. Nellis has been buying AES
encrypted P-25 radios. Edwards has gone P-25 too, but I haven't had a chance to listen to the system to see if it has encrypted users.
Steve Medlin (rancher near Groom Lake) has a simple FM radio that he can talk to the camo dudes on. I met someone who got a ride with Medlin across
the border at Bald Mountain. Basically Medlin tells the base he is crossing the border. That way the don't have to send the camo dudes. [Again, proof
the base security isn't all that tight at the border.] The frequency used by Medlin is unknown, at least by me.
There are recordings of the camo dudes from the days prior to the trunk system. If you read the old Glenn Campbell "Desert Rat" newsletters, he noted
that the camo dudes said he was at K-Mart when he first went on Freedom Ridge.[A tip of the hat to Glenn, the person that put Groom Lake on the map.]
edit on 8-9-2012 by gariac because: Fixed wrap issue in quoted text