The US Army, Air Force, Navy and Coast Guard will cosponsor the Armed Forces Day Military/Amateur Radio Cross-Band Communications Test on Saturday, May 14, 2016. The event gets under way at 1200 UTC, with activity continuing throughout the day. Some military stations may not operate for the entire period.
“New for Armed Forces Day this year, military stations and Amateur Radio operators are authorized to directly communicate on the 60 meter interoperability channels,” US Army MARS Program Manager Paul English, WD8DBY, pointed out.
This year marks the 66th Armed Forces Day (AFD) observance, a week later than the radio event. Armed Forces Day is observed this year on May 21, but the Military/Amateur Radio Cross-Band Communications Test is held earlier in order to avoid conflicting with Dayton Hamvention®.
The annual communications exercise is an opportunity to test two-way communication between amateur and military communicators and features traditional military-to-amateur cross-band SSB and CW communication and offers an opportunity for radio amateurs to utilize modern military communications modes such as MIL-STD serial PSK and automatic link establishment (ALE). These tests give Amateur Radio operators and shortwave listeners (SWLs) a chance and a challenge to demonstrate individual technical skills, and to receive recognition from military radio stations. QSL cards will be provided to stations that contact military stations during this event. The complete announcement of stations, times, and frequencies— subject to change — is available on the US Army MARS website.
Participating military stations will transmit on selected military frequencies and listen for Amateur Radio stations on selected amateur frequencies, which the military station operator will announce. Contacts should be limited to a minute or two, so all participants get a chance. Some stations will operate on Military Auxiliary Radio System (MARS) frequencies; others will use CW.
Amateur Stations with automatic link establishment (ALE) capability can contact military stations on specific half-duplex cross-band channels established for this purpose. Military stations will scan and receive certain Amateur HFLINK ALE frequencies, and transmit on the corresponding military ALE frequency. Military stations will also transmit ALE station identification (soundings) on each military frequency at 30 to 90-minute intervals.
The traditional Secretary of Defense message will be transmitted via Military Standard radio teletype modes, described in MIL-STD 188-110A/B. Reception of serial PSK will provide a technical challenge to amateur stations to receive the broadcasts using a high symbol rate serial PSK waveform not utilized in Amateur Radio, but found in all modern military equipment. See the complete schedule for details. Additional transmissions will use wide-shift FSK (RTTY), as this mode represents a baseline in interoperability common in all radio services. Most RTTY programs can be set to decode this mode. To accommodate amateurs some stations will transmit the Secretary of Defense message using common ham radio modes such as RTTY, PACTOR, AMTOR, PSK31, MFSK and MT63.
Transcripts of the received text should be submitted “as received,” without attempting to correct possible transmission errors. Provide time, frequency and call sign of the military station copied, including the submitter’s name, call sign, and address (with ZIP code). This information should appear on the paper containing the test message.
Stations copying the Secretary of Defense message from Army and Navy stations should send their entries to Armed Forces Day Celebration, Commander Netcom, ATTN: NETC-ITSMD, Bldg 90549 Jim Ave, Fort Huachuca, AZ 85613-7070.
Stations copying Secretary of Defense message from Air Force stations, should send entries to Armed Forces Day Celebration, 38CYRS/Chief AF MARS, 203W Losey St, Room 1200, Scott AFB, IL 62225.