Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Was there ever a DARK Flight of 7?

Photo (C)  Steve Douglass 
The internet has been buzzing ever since I reported I monitored (what sounded like seven B-1B bombers winging their way to UAM (Guam) possibly being  pre-positioned to strike North Korean missile sites.

Since then  USPAF has denied any B-1s have landed at Guam nor anywhere else in the Pacific theater and since I did not have a recording of DARK FLIGHT of Seven - some have doubted the veracity and (or) have speculated the transmission I heard was "spoofing" deliberately made in the clear to make an enemy think there was a flight of B-1Bs on the way.

Begin linked snippet: "Under less ouvert mission, a flight of seven B-1B bombers was deployed over the Pacific, using open communications to transmit their destination of interest – Guam. Although it was not clear if their destination Guam, the use of open comms channel to deliver what would be considered classified information could have been a signal to Pyongyang."

Let me digress - .On April 3rd at approximately 10:42 PM CDT I  monitored (live) "DARK" FLIGHT OF SEVEN on PRIME"  (311.000 MHZ STRATCOM PRIMARY) asking for current weather for UAM.

Later that same evening I monitored  on 251.100 MHz DARK flight  calling for "GASSR 11 and GASSR 12" (KC-135s) for a "Tanker drag to BAB." BAB is Beal AFB in California.

251.100 MHz is a published military air-refueling  ATC frequency for Albuquerque Center (ZAB) and indicated the bombers were in New Mexico airspace. 

Later, when I went through my recordings I could not find the audio. I have several scanners that automatically record to my computer and all I could find (during the point in time  in question) was civil/commercial radio traffic - and in particular a  FEDEX  flight talking in an extended phone-patch  through AIR INC - to his company, trying to find a better flight level due to heavy chop. 

I reported what I heard anyway - but really had no proof- especially the all important communications concerning weather at UAM.

 Along with my report I posted some audio recorded earlier in the day off a military satellite of a  B-1B from Ellsworth, AFB (SLAM ONE) practice bombing a simulated mobile missile site,  in actuality a school bus depot in Snyder, Texas) standing in for the real thing. 

You can hear that communication HERE .http://www.webbfeatproductions.com/satcom.mp3

That recorded communication all but verified that B-1Bs were training to hit missile sites - an educated guess - most likely in North Korea.

An article published on Air Force Times website contained this paragraph: "B-1 bomber pilots based at Dyess Air Force Base in Texas are spending more time training for long flights over the Pacific and spending less preparing for attacks in the deserts and mountains of Afghanistan."  This confirms what I heard.

I then contacted David Cenciotti (The Aviationist) and told him what I had monitored and captured.  He posted a story about it on his blog (as did I ) - and then things went nuts.

It was amazing watching the report propagate through the Internet. In no time the story was posted on about every aviation forum and news service across the planet. My blog began getting slammed as did my live aviation radio feed with hundreds of people listening in at any given moment. My blog logged over fifty thousand page views over the weekend.

And then the denials began. No B-1Bs ever landed at Guam - this according to official and unofficial sources. David posted this STORY in response.

Could it have been that DARK FLIGHT never existed at all and was I just a unknowing participant in some kind of well-orchestrated ruse to make North Korea think B-1Bs were heading to the area even though they were not? Had I been "spoof chattered?"

I decided to go through my recordings again and seek proof.  I deduced I had heard the "UAM" reference when DARK FLIGHT of SEVEN was in Albuquerque Center airspace - I decided I needed to look earlier in my recordings to see if DARK could be heard as they left Abilene or while they were still over Texas.

After wading through recordings I found my nugget. DARK FLIGHT of SEVEN did (at least on the radio) exist.

I had recorded a DARK FLIGHT OF SEVEN as they (possibly) refueled near the Childress VOR with a tanker (most likely) from Altus AFB.

You can listen to the audio (with the spaces edited out) HERE.

In the recording you can hear "DARK FLIGHT OF SEVEN" coming up on the tanker frequency (316.100 MHz) and checking in one at a time.

Refueling seven B-1s has to be herculean task because at one point the boom operator has to take a break.

 However (updated 4-10-13 ) it has not been confirmed if the refueling communications I recorded involved DARK FLIGHT of SEVEN and in fact has been disputed in a comment by a reader on  The Aviationist who claims to be attached to the refueling wing based at Altus, AFB Oklahoma.

Be that what it may, in conclusion - it seems there was a radio call "DARK FLIGHT of SEVEN" - but where (or if) they deployed anywhere is still not known.

-Steve Douglass

UPDATE: David Cenciotti (The Aviationist) posted this report this morning confirming that Dark flight did exist. He speculates the mention (in the clear) of UAM being their final destination may very well have been subterfuge - the B-1s flying a deterrence mission, intended to send a clear message to Pyongyang.

PS: As I drove to work today I pondered one other possibility. It's now  clear there was a DARK FLIGHT of seven. 

According to recordings three B-1bs left Dyess AFB and three returned after doing some practice air refuelings across the southwestern United States. 

But what happened to the other two? Maybe (posit) the two other B-1Bs in DARK FLIGHT were from Ellsworth AFB and maybe (posit) they did head out across the Pacific, took part in  a long distance and long duration sortie, flew close enough to the DPRK to show up on early warning radar screens - then flew home. 

Days before a B-2 stealth bomber made the round trip from Whiteman AFB in Missouri and flew over South Korea. 

Normally (as these stealth training sorties go) no one would have known about the flight since stealth aircraft (duh) do not appear on radar. But it's clear now it was never a training sortie but more of a publicity stunt staged by the Pentagon. It was a public show of force and an attempt to strike fear into the hearts of the generals in the DPRK - complete with a press release and photos. In other words, carefully engineered propaganda. 

But maybe that wasn't enough. Maybe (since the B-2 had an FA/18 escort) it showed up on the North's radars as big as a barn. I imagine some Pyongyang general pointing out that the B-2 stealth bomber is not that stealthy at all. They were not scared and in fact the B-2 flyby only wrenched the rhetoric and threats coming from the DPRK a notch. Not long after at least two medium range missiles were reported being moved to the eastern coast of North Korea.

And then the inevitable happened. Spy satellites pick up on the missile movements, B-1Bs start practicing to take out missile sites and the Pentagon realizes that the DPRK saw the B-2 flyby for what it was - a photo op. 

So someone dreams up a mission. B-1bs from Dyess and Ellsworth team up for a special (un- publicized) training op. Five B-1s and two KC-135s take to the sky - join up over the southwestern US .One B-1B radios a  request for weather at  "UAM" in the clear, either an OPSEC mistake or on purpose.

Maybe - later that evening  all but two  B-1bs fly back to Dyess and Ellsworth.  Two fly off  across the Pacific with their tanker drag to the west coast.  Maybe they pick up other tanker drags as they cross the big pond. The operational (un-refueled)  range of a B-1b is close to 6,000 miles.

Maybe they pick up a tanker out of Guam - or other parts west and then make a run over South Korea.  

They don't land at Guam or anywhere in the Pacific theater because they don't have to. Yes - that's a lot of maybes. 

Or maybe it was a ruse - spoofing - I think they call it.  

Maybe too many maybees for this author but alas I'm not privy what's going on in the halls at the Pentagon - i only report what I hear on my radios.

Besides, deploying  B-1bs closer to Pyongyang would also not only raise already sky-high tensions in the area - it would also dilute the message which could be; "We can hit you from Texas." 

-Steve Douglass 

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