MILITARY CALLSIGN LIST
AS OF 31 March 2011
Compiled by Ron (email@example.com)
This list is the work of many people. I started in 1998 with a basic list that I pulled off of the web. That list had been compiled by Hugh Stegman, a highly respected radio hobbyist and columnist for Monitoring Times. In the intervening years I have added callsigns that I myself have heard and verified as well as those from various “seasoned”, respected milcomer’s and HF utility communications hobbyists here in the US as well as Europe.
One should take most military calls with a grain of salt. They are often used by more than one unit. Also, the US military is closing bases left and right, moving and combining units, transferring tasks to the reserves, and the like. For basically historical reasons I have left in many of the daily changing tactical callsigns used by the TACAMO & ABNCP units. We may not see them again, but then again they could be reused.
A callword is a station identifier without numbers, such as Mudbug Control. A callsign is one with numbers, such as Abnormal 10. Static callsigns/callwords of air tankers tend to associate with gasoline, gas stations, or fuel in general, though the association gets pretty vague. Fighters are more macho. A few callsigns/callwords are acronyms, such as ARIA (Advanced Range Instrumentation Aircraft), JOINT STARS/JSTARS (Joint Surveillance Tactical Radar System), SPAR (Special Priority Air Resource); and SAM (Special Air Mission).
Many CPs, Air National Guard or CAP units, and the like, derive callwords from geographical characteristics of their locations, i.e AK-SAR-BEN (Nebraska backwards, and a popular horse track), MUDBUG (near the Mississippi "big muddy" delta, where mudbug crabs are found), and HIGH ROLLER (Nevada ANG, Reno).
There are several “systems” that I have noted over the years.:
Transports: Callsign + 1 or 01 is usually the unit commander’s callsign. Callsign +2 or 02 is usually the deputy unit commander. Reach callsigns suffixes are usually either a mission number or some variation on the aircraft tail number.
Fighters: Callsign + 81 or 91 appear to be travelling callsigns used on cross-country, special activity and out-of-area flights. Some units have special callsigns they use when travelling out of area so the number used may not correlate with the 81/91 system. Normally, fighters use callsign + 11, callsign + 21, etc. One explanation I’ve read (which makes sense to me) is that the first unit sortie of the day is callsign + 11, the second sortie is callsign + 21 and so on. Another theory is that the suffixes are determined by the day of the week, i.e. 11 is used on Monday, 21 on Tuesday and so on.
NOTE #1: TO THE BEST OF MY KNOWLEDGE, THE CALLSIGNS IN THIS LIST ARE FROM UNCLASSIFED SOURCES---NO CLASSIFIED INFORMATION HAS BEEN KNOWINGLY INCLUDED IN THIS LIST.
NOTE #2: Some of the callsigns were taken from aircraft Mode S tranmissions as copied by listeners with the approproate equipment. These callsigns are entered by the flight or ground crews. As such one sometimes sees things like " F-15s Suck" or "A-10s Rule" in the callsign block. I have added those callsigns that seem to "make sense" to the list in hopes that they are valid callsigns however, with the usual caveat.
NOTE #3- I HOPE THIS LIST IS USEFUL--BUT UNDERSTAND IT IS AN EVER-CHANGING " WORK IN PROGRESS'. I WELCOME ANY SUGGESTED CHANGES/ADDITIONS.