SIGINT Activity Designators (SIGADs)

(Updated: March 22, 2014)

A SIGINT Activity Designator (or SIGAD) is a alphanumeric designator which identifies a facility that is used for collecting Signals Intelligence (SIGINT). These facilities have many different forms, ranging from satellite intercept stations, spy ships and satellites, to sites where internet cables are tapped.

SIGADs are used for intercept facilities operated by the signals intelligence agencies of the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia and New Zealand, as these five countries have a close relationship for collecting and sharing signals intelligence under the so-called UKUSA-agreement.

Since World War II several thousand SIGADs have been assigned. A screenshot of the NSA's BOUNDLESSINFORMANT tool showed that in March 2013 there were 504 active SIGADs, which means that in that month NSA collected data from 504 intercept facilities. This number probably includes many subsets and maybe a several dozen are really significant sources.


Screenshot of the BOUNDLESSINFORMANT tool showing how many
data are collected worldwide through 504 SIGADs


A typical SIGAD looks like USN-855

The first two letters indicate the country and can be US for the United States, UK for the United Kingdom, CA for Canada, AU for Australia and NZ for New Zealand.

Then comes one letter indicating what sort of staff runs the station, which can be M for Army, N for Navy, A for Air Force, J for Joint services (mainly military), F for Joint services (mainly civilian), D for Detachment or C for Civilian staff.

After a hyphen follows a unique number which identifies the particular facility.

An additional alphabetic character is added to denote a sub-designator for a subset of the primary collection unit, like a detachment. Lastly, a numeric character can be added to provide for a sub-sub-designator.

An example of a SIGAD with a sub-sub-designator is US-987LA

Down below is a list of all known SIGADs from past and present and from all five UKUSA-countries. Sorting the unique numbers in groups of hundreds, revealed that they are apparently assigned according to this scheme:

1 - 89: US Army, Navy, Air Force
90 - 99: Canada
100 - 199: United Kingdom
200 - 299: United Kingdom
300 - 399: Australia and New Zealand
400 - 499: US Navy
500 - 599: US Air Force
600 - 699: US Army
700 - 799: US Joint services
800 - 899: Various US services
900 - 999: NSA
1000 - 1999: ?
2000 - 2999: ?
3100 - 3199: NSA
3200 - 3299: NSA
3300 - 3399: NSA

Presently, only a few SIGADs from the 1000-range and none from the 2000-range are known. Maybe these are used for new intercept facilities of US military services and for SIGINT units deployed in the Afghanistan and Iraq wars, like the large number from the 600-range used for intercept sites during the Vietnam war.

Some SIGADs seem to be highly classified and may not be mentioned in documents accessible to all Five Eyes-partners.

Some documents leaked by Edward Snowden show that there are also communications collected by facilities under a designation starting with DS, but for reasons yet unknown these doesn't fit the regular SIGAD-scheme:

- DS-200: "NSA's reporting of GCHQ's Special Source collection"
- DS-200A: ?
- DS-200B: MUSCULAR
- DS-200X: ?
- DS-300: INCENSER
- DS-410:?
- DS-800: ?

See also: What are SIGADs starting with DS for?


Slide showing the number of ownerless e-mail address books blocked,
by points of access, designated by SIGADs from all five
UKUSA countries (listed at the right side)



United States

US Army facilities
Intercept facilities operated by the United States Army are designated by SIGADs beginning with USM:

USM-1: Vint Hill Farms Station (1942-1997)
USM-2: ASA post at Two Rock Ranch in Petaluma, California (1942-1971)
USM-5: Former SIGINT site at Helemano, Hawaii (closed in 1958)
USM-7: Former SIGINT site at Fairbanks, Alaska (closed in 1953)
USM-7: 7th RRFS, Ramasun Station, Udon Thani Province, Thailand
USM-9: 9th RRFS, Philippines
USM-9K: Tan Son Nhut AFB

USM-35: 60th Signal Service Company
USM-76: Panama (with a detachment on Beacon Hill)

USM-604: 330th RRC, Pleiku, South Vietnam (1969-1975)
USM-605: Camp Eagle, South Vietnam (1969-1975)
USM-607: Can Tho, South Vietnam (1969-1975)
USM-613: 313th ASA BN, Nha Tranh, South Vietnam (1969-1975)
USM-614: 303rd ASA BN, Bien Hoa, South Vietnam (1969-1975)
USM-616: Xuan Loc, South Vietnam (1969-1975)
USM-620K: UHF intercept site in West-Berlin
USM-624: Long Thanh, South Vietnam (1969-1975)
USM-625: Former SIGINT site at Helemano, Hawaii (closed in 1967)
USM-626: 3rd RRU, 82nd SOU, Bien Hoa, South Vietnam (1969-1975)
USM-626J: Phu Bai, South Vietnam (1969-1975)
USM-628: Bien Roa, South Vietnam (1969-1975)
USM-631: Phouc Vinh, South Vietnam (1969-1975)
USM-633: 372nd Radio Research Company at Cu Chi, South Vietnam (1969-1975)
USM-633J: A detachment of the 372d Radio Research Company
USM-634: Pleiku, South Vietnam (1969-1975)
USM-636: Di An, South Vietnam (1969-1975)
USM-636: Former SIGINT site at Helemano, Hawaii (closed in 1976)
USM-638: Cam Ranh Bay, South Vietnam (1969-1975)
USM-645: Quang Tri, South Vietnam (1969-1975)
USM-649: Chu Lai, South Vietnam (1969-1975)
USM-653: Nha Trang, South Vietnam (1969-1975)

USM-704: 509th ASA Group, Saigon, South Vietnam (1969-1975)
USM-794: Saigon, South Vietnam (1969-1975)

USM-808: 8th RRU, 8th RRFS, Phu Bai, South Vietnam (1969-1975)
USM-818: ?


US Navy facilities
Intercept facilities operated by the United States Navy are designated by SIGADs beginning with USN:

USN-13: Former SIGINT site at Adak, Alaska (closed in 1996)
USN-18: Dupont, SC (as of 1945)
USN-18: Panama (as of 1976)
USN-27: Naval Communication Station at San Miguel, Philippines
USN-27J: Phu Bai, South Vietnam, later USN_842
USN-39: Misawa, Japan

USN-414: 1st Radio Batallion, Danang, South Vietnam (1969-1975)
USN-414T: Pleiku, Phu Bai, South Vietnam (1969-1975)
USN-467: Naval Direct Support Unit (DSU) missions:
USN-467N: USS Maddox patrol involved with the Gulf of Tonkin incident (1964)
USN-467Y: USS Pueblo, captured by North Korea in 1968

USN-842: Phu Bai, South Vietnam (1969-1975)
USN-843: Danang, South Vietnam (1969-1975)
USN-855: USS Liberty (1964-1968)


US Air Force facilities
Intercept facilities operated by the United States Air Force are designated by SIGADs beginning with USA:

USA-29: 7th RRFS, Udorn Royal Thai Air Force Base, Udorn, Thailand
USA-31: Listening post at Osan, Korea
USA-32: 2nd detachment, 6925 Security Wing, Danang, South Vietnam (1969-1975)
USA-34: 3rd radio Squadron Mobile at Elmendorf AFB, Alaska
USA-36: ? (existed as of 1967)
USA-38: 6920th Electronic Security Group at Misawa AFB, Japan
USA-50: 6950th Security Group at Chicksands, England
USA-53: 6913th Radio Squadron in Bremerhaven, West Germany (1951-1968)
USA-57: 6922nd Security Wing, 6925 Security Squadron, Clark AFB, Philippines
USA-70: Former intercept site at Marienfelde, West Berlin
USA-73: Former VHF intercept site in Hof, West Germany

USA-516: Former SIGINT site at Eielson AFB, Alaska (closed in 1973)
USA-522J: Cam Ranh Bay, South Vietnam (1969-1975)
USA-561: Tan Son Nhuh, South Vietnam (1969-1975)
USA-562: Phu Cat, South Vietnam (1969-1975)
USA-563: Danan, South Vietnam (1969-1975)

(these US Air Force SIGADs should not be confused with the designations for US military satellites, which have the same format and are listed here)


US joint facilities
Intercept facilities operated by joint US military services are designated by SIGADs beginning with USJ (mainly military staff) and USF (mainly civilian staff):

USF-63: NSA listening station at Rosman, North Carolina (1981-1995)

USJ-751: Non-corporate interception facility
USJ-759: Menwith Hill Station
USJ-759A: Menwith Hill Station
USF-778: NSA listening station in Bad Aibling, Germany (relocated in 2004)
USF-799: Misawa Air Force Base in Japan
USJ-799: Non-corporate interception facility


Other US facilities
Some other SIGADs begin with USD, where D stands for detachment:

USD-110: NSA listening station at Yakima, Washington, US
USD-1000: NSA listening station at Menwith Hill, UK
USD-1025: (NSA special liaison officer at) GCHQ in Cheltenham, UK


US space platforms
US Air Force space platforms are designated by SIGADs beginning with AFP. For reasons unknown, both these letters and the unique numbers don't fit in the main scheme for the other SIGADs.

(UPDATE: this has been clarified by a reader, pointing to an article which explains that the AFP-numbers were actually used for a wide variety of space programs and therefore not as a SIGAD)


NSA facilities
Intercept facilities operated by the NSA are designated by SIGADs beginning with US without an additional letter:

US-962A5: Collection of telephone metadata from Afghanistan
US-966V: ?

US-983: STORMBREW under Transit Authority (a corporate partner for transit switch access with 27 opc/dpc pairs)

US-984: BLARNEY under FISA authority
US-984J: FBI data under FISA authority
US-984P: STORMBREW under FISA authority
US-984T: FAIRVIEW under FISA authority
US-984X*: BLARNEY facilities under FAA authority:
US-984XA-H: STORMBREW facilities under FAA authority
US-984XN: PRISM program collection under FAA authority
US-984XR: FAIRVIEW collection under FAA authority
US-984X2: FAIRVIEW collection under FAA authority

US-985D: Collection of telephone metadata by a French agency
US-985Y: Collection of telephone metadata by the Dutch agency MIVD

US-987: 3rd party collection sites?
US-987A3005: Collection of mobile phone metadata by an Italian agency
US-987F: Collection of mobile phone metadata by a Norwegian agency
US-987L: West-German VHF SIGINT site
US-987LA: Listening post of the German agency BND in Bad Aibling, Germany
US-987LB: Listening post of the German agency BND in Afghanistan
US-987S: Collection of mobile phone metadata by a Spanish agency

US-990: FAIRVIEW under Transit Authority (corporate partner for transit switch access with 860 opc/dpc pairs)

US-3101C: ?
US-3101M: ?
US-3105: ?
US-3105S1: DARKTHUNDER (SSO corporate/TAO shaping program)
US-3105S1: STEELFLAUTA (SSO corporate/TAO shaping program)
US-3111C: ?

US-3127: Telephony intercept facility (671 opc/dpc pairs)

US-3136**: Close Access collection under the GENIE program within the US:
US-3136BR: Against the Brazilian embassy using LIFESAVER techniques
US-3136HN: Against the Brazilian UN mission using VAGRANT techniques
US-3136IJ: Against the Brazilian UN mission using LIFESAVER techniques
US-3136LO: Against the French embassy through the PBX
US-3136MV: Against the Italian embassy using HIGHLANDS techniques
US-3136OF: Against the French UN mission using HIGHLANDS techniques
US-3136PD: Against unknown targets in New York using COOP techniques
US-3136SI: Against the Brazilian embassy using HIGHLANDS techniques
US-3136SU: Against the Italian embassy using LIFESAVER techniques
US-3136UC: Against the French embassy using HIGHLANDS techniques
US-3136VC: Against the French UN mission using VAGRANT techniques
US-3136VQ: Against the Brazilian UN mission using HIGHLANDS techniques
US-3137**: Close Access collection under the GENIE program outside the US
US-3138: STARRUBY (trashint)

US-3140: MADCAPOCELOT
US-3145: MOONLIGHTPATH (telephone intercept facility with 381 opc/dpc pairs)

US-3167: Non-corporate intercept facility (1313 opc/dpc pairs)
US-3170: SSO facility for collecting content under the STELLARWIND program
US-3171: DANCINGOASIS (non-corporate intercept facility)
US-3180: SPINNERET (non-corporate intercept facility with 2022 opc/dpc pairs)

US-3190: Telephone intercept facility with 136 opc/dpc pairs

US-3206: MONKEYROCKET (foreign access point)
US-3217: SHIFTINGSHADOW (foreign access point)
US-3230: ORANGECRUSH (foreign access point)
US-3237: Non-corporate intercept facility with 1816 opc/dpc pairs
US-3247: YACHTSHOP (internet metadata collection)
US-3251: ORANGEBLOSSOM (international transit switch collection)
US-3261: Telephone intercept facility with 5 opc/dpc pairs
US-3273: SILVERZEPHYR under Transit and FAA Authority (international transit switch collection with 91 opc/dpc pairs)
US-3277: BLUEZEPHYR
US-3293: Telephony intercept facility with 20 opc/dpc pairs
US-3294: Intercept facility targeting traffic from Peru

US-3300: Telephony intercept facility with 39 opc/dpc pairs
US-3310BG: SCALAWAG (non-corporate intercept facility)
US-3311: Telephony intercept facility with 1 opc/dpc pair
US-3354: COBALTFALCON



One of the doors to room 641A in the building of AT&T in San Francisco,
where the NSA had a secret internet tapping device installed,
reportedly under the BLARNEY program (SIGAD: US-984)



Canada

Intercept facilities in Canada are designated by SIGADs beginning with CA. Initially the third letter showed what sort of staff operated the station, but after the Armed Forces Unification in 1968 the third letter became an F for all military facilities:

CAF-90: Gander (1942-present)
CAF-91: Masset (1944-1945 and 1949-present)
CAN-92: Aklavik (1949-1961)
CAF-92: Inuvik (1961-1986)
CAM-93: Ladner (1949-1971)
CAN-94: Chimo, later Frobisher Bay (1953-1967)
CAA-95: Whitehorse (1948-1968)
CAN-96: Coverdale (1942-1971)
CAN-97: Gloucester (1943-1972)
CAF-98: Leitrim (1942-present)
CAC-98CG: Sub-facility of Leitrim (maybe CANDLEGLOW?)
CAN-99: Churchill (1948-1968)
CAF-99: Probably the fleet Cryptologic Direct Support Elements (CDSE)



United Kingdom

Intercept facilities in the United Kingdom are designated by SIGADs beginning with UK. The third letter can be M for Army, N for Navy, A for Air Force, J for Joint services or C for Civilian staff:

Civilian facilities

UKC-102: Intercept station in Singapore
UKC-125: ?

UKC-201: Intercept station at Little Sai Wan, Hong Kong
UKC-206D: ?
UKC-215: ?

UKC-302A: ?

UKC-1000: Telex interception site at 8 Palmer Street, London


Army facilities

UKM-253: British Army SIGINT unit in Cyprus
UKM-257: Interception station at Ayios Nikolaos, Cyprus


Navy facilities

UKN-125: Royal Navy station at Scarborough near Scotland


Air Force facilities

UKA-277B: Former RAF intercept unit at the Teufelsberg, West-Berlin


Joint services facilities

UKF-100: Radio Intercept Station at Knockholt, Kent (1941-?)

UKJ-260D: ?



Australia

Intercept facilities in Australia are designated by SIGADs beginning with AU. Presently, only the SIGADS of two civilian operated sites are known:

AUC-393: ?
AUC-395: ?



New Zealand

Intercept facilities in New Zealand are designated by SIGADs beginning with NZ. As all sites are operated by civilians, the third letter is a C:

NZC-331: Former Nr.1 listening station (1949-1982)
NZC-332: Radio intercept station at Tangimoana (1982-present)
NZC-333: Satellite intercept station at Waihopai (1989-present)
NZC-334: GCSB mobile station
NZC-335: GCSB mobile station



The listening station at Waihopai (SIGAD: NZC-333) in New Zealand
after activists deflated one of the kevlar radomes in April 2008
(photo: Derek Flynn/Marlborough Expres)



Sources
- Wikipedia article about the SIGINT Activity Designator
- Nicky Hager, Secret Power, New Zealand’s role in the international spy network (pdf), 1996, p. 149
- Maybe You Had to Be There, in: Cryptologic Quarterly (pdf), p. 21, 23 and 36
- Surveillance satellites: Jonathan's Space Report No. 509
- Canadian Station Designators

11 comments:

Anonymous said...

Missing one USF-63 Rosman, NC. http://www.atomicexpress.net/2012/06/04/the-rosman-research-station-aka-nsa-field-station-f63/

P/K said...

Thank you, it's added to the list!

Bill Robinson said...

Thanks for this post. One possible correction: as I wrote here (http://luxexumbra.blogspot.ca/2013/10/introduction-to-sigads.html), "the suggestion that the AFP numbers associated with some U.S. military space programs are the SIGADs for those systems is, I believe, not correct. As Dwayne A. Day explains here (http://www.thespacereview.com/article/1750/1), AFP numbers were used for a wide variety of space programs, including SIGINT satellites, but also including communications satellites, meteorological satellites, R&D satellites, IR/early warning satellites, and photo reconnaissance satellites. Furthermore, unlike SIGADs, AFP numbers were used for public references to those various programs."

P/K said...

Thank you for the correction! I didn't know the article explaining the satellite designations, but it clearly makes sense, as the AFP-numbers also didn't fit the SIGAD-scheme. I will correct the article.

Rob1 said...

Impressive job ! Here are some you can add to your list :

USN-18: Dupont, SC (as of 1945)
USN-18: Panama (as of 1976)
USA-36: unknown (existed as of 1967)
USM-76: Panama (with a detachment on Beacon Hill)

(numbers found in Tom Johnson's American Cryptology during the Cold War, volumes )

USA-50: 6950th Security Group at Chicksands, UK
USD-1025: "GCHQ Cheltenham" ("USD" means probably the SUSLO - Senior US Liaison Officer)

From Duncan Campbell, "The Eavesdroppers", Timeout, 1976

http://www.duncancampbell.org/menu/journalism/timeout/Eavesdroppers.pdf

USM-818: related to CTF-76 ? see http://www.nsa.gov/public_info/_files/gulf_of_tonkin/sigint_reports/rel1_sigint_report_list_miguel.pdf

P/K said...

Many thanks for the additions, I will add them to the listing!

Rob1 said...

Again another one :

USM-2: ASA post at Two Rock Ranch in Petaluma, California (1942-1971).

(also from American Cryptology during the Cold War. I hope we'll get soon more declassified versions of volumes I and IV.)

P/K said...

Thanks again - this is clearly the correct facility, instead of the US embassy in Moscow, as supposed by another source.

Anonymous said...

US-985D

https://www.documentcloud.org/documents/807032-boundless-france.html

http://www.lemonde.fr/technologies/article/2013/10/21/france-in-the-nsa-s-crosshair-phone-networks-under-surveillance_3499741_651865.html

Bill Robinson said...

Some more SIGAD descriptions:

"International Transit Switch Collection*: International Transit switches, FAIRVIEW (US-990), STORMBREW (US-983), ORANGEBLOSSOM (US-3251), and SILVERZEPHYR (US-3273), are Special Source Operations (SSO) programs authorized to collect cable transit traffic passing through U.S. gateways with both ends of the communication being foreign."

Source: https://www.aclu.org/sites/default/files/assets/sid_oversight_and_compliance.pdf

Bill Robinson said...

More on SILVERZEPHYR here:
http://oglobo.globo.com/infograficos/big-brother-am-latina/