US NAVY using ADS-B code hopping for its P8 over South China Sea
Posted On 2020-11-28
Recently, I started to detect many P8 Poseidon aircraft above South China Sea, like if a dozen of different P8 were flying in the area each day. The only explanation I see is that they are doing ADS-B code hopping, switching to a new TACTICAL code every few minutes.
Here are the codes I detected so far:
Most of the time, I don’t get a position for these aircraft, as they obviously don’t broadcast it, and they are flying too far offshore which makes it difficult to get a MLAT position, as not many receivers can detect them at the same time.
Code swapping is an interesting tactic, which I had not expected to be so rapid and seemingly easy. For a number of years, I flew a B737 on airways up and down the South China Sea. It was common to hear Hong Kong Radar making calls on 121.5 to unidentified traffic squawking 1200 and at high altitudes (FL200 to FL320 + 500 ft), which turned out to be P-8s watching China.
There were other times when Hong Kong would call unidentified traffic at FL600, which was more likely to be a drone or U-2.
Half of the fun is tracking these aircraft by ADS-B, but the other half is hearing the radio calls. I sure wish LiveATC or someone else would set up a live stream of guard freq / 121.5 to catch those calls. It has been active near TW recently, with the uptick in feints and provocations going on.