Monthly Archives: July 2011

Interactive PSYOPS in Libya: the Canadian live benign propaganda messages prompt the listener to reply to the broadcaster

Until Jul. 29, 2011, only two types of PSYchological OPerationS (PSYOPS) had been reported from Libya.

The first, is the typical, world famous message broadcasting performed by the USAF EC-130J (00-1934/STEEL74) of the 193 SOS, operating out of Sigonella, in Italy, inviting sailors and naval officers of a Libyan ship to leave the vessel and return to their families. Broadcasted in HF frequencies, these messages were often intercepted by radio ham from all around the world and published almost everywhere, from Audioboo to Youtube.

The second, is the message written on leaflets like those dropped on May 17, 2011, by an Italian Air Force C-130J over Tripoli  to counter Gaddafi’s regime propaganda in Libya’s capital city.

The new one was unveiled by the Associated Press that on Jul. 29 published an article titled “Canada joins propaganda war aimed at Gadhafi forces”. First of all, the article discloses that the Canadian CP-140 Aurora, a multi-purpose plane mostly used as an anti-submarine warfare platform and to search out illegal fishing, immigration, smuggling, drug trafficking and polluting along the coastline, has been employed, in combat, to perform PSYOPS.

Second, it explains that the Libyans have apparently replying to the broadcasts and there has been at least a sort of “conversation” between the broadcaster and the listener.

Here’s an excerpt of the article:

The Canadian broadcasts are relatively benign in comparison to some of the harsher messages NATO has aimed at Gadhafi’s troops, in which women’s voices are telling them to stop “killing the children.”

The Canadian messages, in English, are read hourly during patrols along the Libyan coast over AM/FM frequencies that Libyans usually monitor.

“For your safety return to your family and your home,” says the message, which can be heard over unencrypted frequencies the military uses to broadcast basic information.

“The Gadhafi regime forces are violating United Nations resolution 1973.

On at least one occasion last week, an Arabic sounding voice challenged the broadcasts.

“Who are you talking to?” the voice asked.

“Anyone who will listen,” replied the other voice who had read the message.

Gadhafi’s regime has tried to jam the transmissions.

The above “transcript” suggests that, unlike the US EC-130J, that were broadcasting some “rude” recorded messages (“we will destroy you”), the Canadian Auroras have started live transmissions with more “gentle” messages that may prompt some kind of interaction between the listener and the broadcaster, that could have some good results.

Should the US reconsider their persuasion techniques?

Image source: Canadian Combat Camera

A glimpse into the future with the first F-35C catapult launch video

Ok, it isn’t taken on the deck of USS Nimitz. However, the following video, just released by the US Navy, gives you an idea of what US (and British) naval aviation will look like in the future. Just imagine some more green, blue, yellow, red jackets, the typical “island” of a supercarrier in the background, steam coming out of the catapults, and the sea at the end of the deck. To be honest, to add some more realism, we should add some payload (weapons and tanks) to that clean and light aircraft….

The video was taken at Lakehurst on Jul. 27, 2011 when Navy test pilot Lt. Christopher Tabert took off with the F-35C CF-3, the  designated carrier suitability testing aircraft, launched by a steam catapult during catapult and jet blast deflector testing.

Noteworthy, as the F-18, the F-35C has the rudders deflected inwards during catapult launches to help the nose raising as the aircraft leaves the ship.

The F-35C is the carrier variant of the Joint Strike Fighter, with larger wing surfaces and reinforced landing gear for slower catapult launch and landing approach speeds and deck impacts associated with the demanding carrier take-off and landing environment than the A (Conventional) and B (STOVL) variant.

Utøya island attack: the only police helicopter grounded by budget constraints

After reading my last post about Utøya island attack a friend of mine sent me a detailed description of the exact chronology of the events in Norway, with some more information that I’ll try to summarize to help readers understand  when and how the Norwegian police and special forces reacted.

1522 bomb explodes in Oslo

1727 local police receives first call about shooting at Utøya

1730 informal note from the local to the Oslo police about this call

1738 local police requests police “Delta” unit, SWAT-alike unit

1752 local police arrives at shore close to the island (25 mins is a while, that’s Norway with distances etc)

1809 Delta arrives mainland by Utøya

1825 Delta lands at Utøya by Rigid Inflatable Boat (this is the same time as the helicopter that filmed)

1827 Delta arrests Anders Behring Breivik with no resistance, he still had ammo left

=one hour from first call till arrest, not too bad considering it is an island and they had to wait for the Delta unit.


  • Norwegian police doesn’t have personnel transport helicopters. According to the reports, there should be only one police helicopter with observation equipment. So Special Forces (Delta) have to rely on support from RNoAF (Royal Norwegian Air Force) helicopters.
  • From the latest news it’s not clear whether the Police helicopter ever reached the scene or not.
  • Another point is a quite limited reach from the police helicopter due to the heavy weight of its equipment; from 3 hours to 1 hour and 30 minutes.
  • The helicopter is often grounded due to budget constraints for the police force. It became clear today that due to budget cuts the helicopter was grounded in the “common summer holiday” of 3-4 wks June-July every year in Norway, as well as other holidays. Due to the helicopter being shut down (crew or technical, I don’t know) for the holidays, it took quite some time to get it in the air in this instance, but it was used later in the operation (unknown
    when or how).
  • There should be an interview with the photographer Marius Arnesen who said that they only had fuel for 10 minutes (probably at site); they were originally going to Oslo city to film the damage there.
  • Maybe, if the police helicopter had been able to reach the island earlier, it could have shot Anders Behring Breivik  before he executed one of the youths or helped on situational awareness for the Deltas – revealing that there was only one guy and this could make the search quicker.
  • Most probably, given the complex situation with a coordinated terror attack no one knew the limits of, after the arrest it took the police quite some time to secure the island for possible other terrorists and bomb traps – which of course wasn’t good for the many people with severe gunshot wounds.
  • Someone think that the murderer had brought explosives to the island and planned to gather everyone in the main building for an information meeting and blow it up (although there are conflicting info on the explosives). Perhaps, the leaders and one guard got suspicious and he shot them on arrival to the island, alerting everyone. Given Anders Behring Breivik purchase of 6 tons fertilizer, the assumed 5-600 kgs in the Oslo bomb and the 3 tons left at his farm, there is still quite a bit unaccounted for, that is obviously a priority for the police (the media aren’t really on to that yet).
  • Apparently there were difficult flying conditions, the three ambulance helicopters stopped half way due to the fog+wind (and probably also the unclear situation….).

Above, the Norwegian Police helicopter LN-OCP (source: Wikipedia).

Utøya island attack: another example of news helicopters faster to the scene than police choppers

Follow up post (Jul. 25, 2011)

Yesterday, a friend of mine sent me a message after seeing images taken from a helicopter of Anders Behring Breivik shooting people at Utøya island during the so-called 2011 Norway attacks. He couldn’t understand why there could be images of the murderer before the police had arrived into the island.

The explaination is simple: those images were taken by a news helicopter that was able to reach Utøya and shoot the footage well before the Police’s Special Forces could manage to reach the island (1 hour and 35 minutes after Breivik had begun massacring people).

People on Social Networks was astonished that a news chopper could intervene quicker than a police one, however, there are many media helicopters overflying the largest town of the world and, quite often, they are able to get exclusive images in the immediate aftermath of disasters and terrorist attacks.

In my opinion, the question is not why a news helicopter was able to get to the scene before special forces one but: in such events does the news chopper stand in police chopper’s path? Can a news helicopter spur the wrong reaction from a murderer/terrorist who could feel under the spotlight?

Above: a RAI TV helicopter

Free Libya's new airport: a mountain highway

Few days ago I published an article after seeing a picture that showed two single seat Mig-21bis and one double seat Mig-21UM flying over Benina airbase at the end of June. The image not only showed three of the four Mig-21s that were reported to have defected on Mar.17, but raised also some questions about the No-Fly Zone.

Someone wondered if preventing the Free Libya Air Force fighters from flying would have any sense if we consider that NATO and its coalition partners are (more or less….) there to help them. What I’ve explained them, is that the problem is strictly tied to the use of common procedures and to the prior coordination required to engage a densely populated airspace, as the Libyan NFZ, with fast jets: unless they know Transit Corridors, radio frequencies, transponder/IFF codes, etc., and are properly deconflicted, instead of being useful, FLAF plane could be extremely dangerous for other coalition planes. That’s why the NFZ applied to both pro-Gaddafi and rebel planes as the interception of a FLAF Mig-23 on Apr. 9 shows.

After discussing about the NFZ with Guido Olimpio, Corriere della Sera’s special correspondent from Washington DC, he sent me the following Reuters images that show an Air Libya BAe 146 used to link Benghazi with Rhebat, in the Nafusa region, a new airfield opened in the remote Western Mountain stronghold south of Tripoli. The “runway” is quite narrow and only small transport planes, capable of taxing from unprepared aprons, can operate from it.

Since it is impossible to operate those flights without NATO’s approval, the photos, taken on Jul. 12, 2011, explain the reason why the Mig-21s were flying over Benina on Jun. 27: a limited rebel flight activity must have been granted to the rebels (probably in the form of a transit corridor between Benina and Rhebat).

The most intriguing, and less likely/almost impossible theory, is that the Mig-21s are used to provide some kind of escort to the Air Libya BAe146 during the first part of its flight to Rhebat.

Air Libya is a privately owned company which operated charter flights in support of oil field operations and some charter services from Benina airport. (Photo: Reuters)