Other Radio Hobbies
Report #076 11/30/10
The Favieres unit appears to be providing communications for three distinct purposes. Using callsign F9TM it furnishes some practice sessions for French Hams. I have only intercepted this once, several years ago, and it was a message in French plain text. Favieres also holds practice sessions for French Army radio operators. For this it uses FAV22 as the callsign. These sessions consist of both French plaintext and cipher messages. Frequencies 3881, 4029, 5297, 6056, 6825, 8751.55 and 12295 kHz have been seen with these FAV22 practice transmissions. Simulcasting on some of these frequencies has been noted. Finally, it transmits what is suspected as valid French Military Intelligence traffic. This latter may however also have some dummy traffic included as a means of disguising the true volume of messages.
Messages are sent in Automatic Morse at about 15 wpm. Transmissions of a messages takes a fraction more than 6 minutes. All messages are 100 groups in length. A typical message has a header as follows: NR 51 N 17 17:06:32 1986 BT The message numbers runs from 01 to 90 and then reverts to 01 again. Next is the first letter of the month, then date and Central European time, a fake year and BT. Into 5 letter groups and BT at end of message. This is followed by the header of the next message and so on.
In regard to the incorrect year in the header, I believe this is merely an attempt to present the traffic as being practice traffic. I noted numerous instances of French and related events seemingly reflected by large volumes of M51 messages. In addition to French forces stationed within France, French forces overseas number over 30,000 troops. It makes sense that French Military Intelligence traffic would be sent to all French units.
I first heard M51 on 13816 kHz in 1989. In 2003 I again ran across M51 transmissions. Numerous monitoring reports of the activity were noted on Internet sites during the ensuing years. In 2008 I decided to make a concentrated effort on a daily basis to develop information on M51. This coverage continued up to the present time. Two friends helped with the monitoring. It is evident that I do not receive M51 signals as well as monitors in Europe. I wish I did so I would have had more traffic and frequencies for analysis.
Frequency use has been in the 2-19 megaHertz bands and also in the 23 megaHertz band. Studying the frequencies I and my friends had copied over the past three years, plus loggings on the internet, indicated a frequency plan for a 7 day ROTA. i.e. Frequencies used on Monday were also used the following Monday(s). Tuesday on Tuesday, etc. I have not determined just how long a particular ROTA system is in use but it has been observed running over several months. I would suppose the changes to the ROTA system are made in line with propagation considerations. There is simulcasting and I have heard as many as 4 frequencies in use at the same time. There are probably additional frequencies involved but I have not heard more than 4 at a time. The clue to simulcasting came about because it was noted when a frequency shut down, and the target was found on another frequency, there was no gap in the message numbers. Subsequent searching confirmed the simulcasting.
Traffic sent on Saturdays has often been seen containing repeats of messages sent earlier in the week. This probably indicates recipients had garbled texts perhaps due to bad receiving conditions thus necessitating a request for a repeat of a message.
Some monitors have been identifying all Favieres transmissions as being for training.This activity has been on the air since sometime in the 1980s. Years ago ENIGMA referred to M51 as being the replacement for M33, callsign P8K, which was suspected of being associated with French Military Intelligence. I simply can not believe all the M51 traffic has been strictly for training purposes.
End of Report
©2010 Don Schimmel.