Electronic Weapons: Humping Huff-Duff


January 17, 2011: Operations in Afghanistan have led to the development of a handheld RDF (Radio Direction Finder) device. RDF is a century old technique using a radio receiver that shows the direction a radio transmission is coming from. Use two of these, and with a little basic trigonometry, you can locate the precise location of the transmitter. During the World Wars, this came to be known as high frequency direction finding, or HF/DF, or more informally huff-duff. It was crucial in naval and air war operations, and less so on the ground.

U.S. Army Special Forces teams operating out in the Afghan country side knew that Taliban groups used radios, usually commercial rigs (the Motorola handhelds are a big favorite). But RDF gear was not always available (either in an aircraft, or the vehicle mounted rigs them available). So, the army eventually developed the Wolfhound Handheld RDF (actually, some of the gear goes in a backpack). Wolfhound can be used on the move and has a color display and easy-to-learn controls. Now Special Forces troops on foot, in remote locations, could locate Taliban radio users (be they lookouts, bases or groups on the move.) Thus over the last two years, since the Wolfhound was first deployed, Taliban losses have increased because of portable RDF.


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