1 December 2018

STANAG-5065 MSK300, LF shore-to-ship surface broadcast

Nice catch of a STANAG-5065 MSK300 signal picked up by a colleague using the Alicante Kiwisdr on 145.0 KHz. By the way, we wish here to thanks the owner of Alicante kiwisdr for his kindness allowing the use of his sdr uninterruptedly for long periods.
The signal is transmitted from Guardamar de Segura in Spain (also known as "Torreta de Guardamar" [1]) currently operated by the Spanish Infanteria de Marina to convey messages to submarines. The use of the S5065 Low Frequency MSK300 waveform (surface broadcast) and the "mission" of Guardamar site, suggest that these transmissions could be intended for surfaced submarines or submarines cruising at periscope depth.  
Fig. 1- TDoA results (left), Tx location obscured by Google Earth (right)
While other broadcast stations for submarines such as DHO38 or NSY transmit continuously, Guardamar only transmits if there is traffic to send, and, since the low bandwidth that characterizes the LF band, transmissions may last for some more than an hour. Most likely the Thales TRC 2556 VLF/LF digital multi-channel receiver is used aboard [2].

As said, the S5065 MSK 300Bd/150 is the used waveform:

Fig. 2 - MSK 300Bd/150Hz waveform
Messages use 7-bit START-STOP ITA2 (Baudot) code which is then encrypted using the KW-46 crypto equipment (KWT-46 transmitter and the KWR-46 receiver hase the code name Vallor). Encryption results in bits 1 to 6 being encrypted and bit 7 (STOP) being replaced with a deterministic unencrypted Fibonacci bit defined by the polynomial x^31+x^3+1 which provides synchronization to the receive KW-46 equipment. 
In MSK300 mode the encrypted data from KW-46 are coded into a (13,12) Wagner error coding scheme and then applied to the MSK modulator (as seen here, processing for STANAG-5065 FSK operations does not include Wagner encoding). As shown in Figure 3, the encoding includes blocking the information into 2 character groups, substituting a parity bit for every second Fibonacci bit to form a (13,12) Wagner odd parity code block (odd numbers of 1s) over 12 informations bits (Fibonacci bit excluded).

Fig. 3 - (13,12) Wagner encoding of KW-46 encrypted stream
In MSK modulations the intelligence is contained in the phase shifts and is not consistent with the frequency shifts, thus the signal can't be demodulated using a generic FSK demodulator.

Fig. 4 - MSK300 phase-plane (before equalization)
After some unsuccessful demodulation attempts I asked my friend Christoph Mayer for help, he too checked the S5065 waveform and kindly sent me an MSK demodulator written by him and re-coded for Octave. The results of the analysis of the modulated stream, shown in Fig. 5 after left shifted, perfectly matches the schema of Figure 3.

Fig. 5 -  S5065 MSK300 stream after demodulation
It's very interesting to note that both the sequence obtained with n F-bits and that obtained with n/2 (n/2 -1) F-bits are attributable to the same polynomial x^31+x^3+1, my guess is that this feature maybe helps the initial synchronization of the FEC process detecting the position of the Wagner odd parity bits.