Noble Skywave is an international radio competition held by the Canadian Forces Joint Signals Regiment, and is designed to improve participants’ high frequency radio communications abilities using the spirit of competition, said Tech. Sgt. Nathan Belanger, a radio frequency transmission systems supervisor with the 148th ASOS.
One hundred and twenty-three military and civilian teams from around the world, registered for the exercise. While most of the teams were spread across Canada and the United States, other teams were located in Australia, New Zealand, United Kingdom, Peru, Norway and Afghanistan.
The exercise took place over 36 hours, with teams earning points for successfully contacting other teams over the radio, said Belanger. A scoring matrix was set in place to reward teams who were able to reach the farthest stations and multipliers were awarded for being able to send digital transmissions. More points were given for advanced transmission modes.
The 148th ASOS, in their fifth year competing, finished 15th overall and eighth in their power class.
Belanger, competing for his fifth year, stated that despite not winning, the exercise was successful.
“We accomplished all of our objectives, which was to flex our muscles as far we could reach,” said Belanger. “We definitely contacted the entire range.”
From a training standpoint, the exercise gives competitors a chance to see the capabilities of their HF radio communications in action.
“You get operations training, so you get guys used to talking on the mic, tracking things going across very rapidly,” said Belanger. “It got chaotic in here, and there were transmissions coming on top of transmissions. You were trying to hear the person you wanted to talk to and other people are stepping on top, and there is noise in the background. It’s a lot of good training for radio operators.”
The field of teams has grown since the 148th ASOS joined the competition in 2014, in part by Belanger promoting the exercise to fellow communications Airmen.
“We have been doing our part… to get more participation from our community,” said Belanger.
This was the first year the 271st CBCS competed in the exercise, said Senior Master Sgt. Roarke Singer, the RF/Cyber transport operations section chief for the 271st CBCS.
The 271st CBCS joined in on the exercise, using their own HF radio communications capabilities. Singer stated he thought they fared well considering they only took part in the day-time operations and wanted to feel out the competition and see how their system worked out.
“It was a learning experience,” said Singer. Singer also said it was a good opportunity to see where their training was on HF and where they needed to increase training. They plan on looking to overcome limitations by changing location and equipment and using a different strategy for next year’s competition.