Typhoon

Fixed Wing Geo-Location (Manned)

Sure to capture data from thousands of bystanders’ phones

Review by Nathan Wessler

Staff Attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union’s Speech, Privacy, and Technology Project

The National Security Agency designed this little number itself, cutting out the usual corporate middleman. With an airborne broadcast range of 30 kilometers in rural areas and 5 kilometers in urban ones, the Typhon is sure to capture data from thousands of bystanders’ phones. But buyer beware: This snooping device only captures data from GSM phones, meaning it’s good to go in most of the world, but won’t work on Sprint, Verizon, and U.S. Cellular phones in the United States. For those, check out the airplane-ready cell-site simulators from Boeing Co.’s subsidiary DRT.

Capabilities

The Typhoon is used as a GSM airborne geo-location system to replicate a GSM network Base Station. They operate by attracting and registering handsets operating on the local commercial network. Each handset's IMSI (International Mobile Subscriber Identity) or IMEI (International Mobile Station Equipment Identity) is compared against the target watch list. When a targeted handset is identified and registered to the box, a geo-location solution is calculated. Typhoon was specifically designed and built for geo-location missions in fixed wing aircraft (manned/unmanned).

Limitations and Planning Factors

- 30km+ range in rural areas, 5km in urban areas - Integrated GPS - Highly mobile - Field Upgradable - Battery or vehicle power capable - 4-8 hour battery life - 20 pounds with out the battery

Vendor

NSA TAO

Protocols

GSM 850/1900, 900/1800

Approval

Title 10/ 50 (Title 10 only under 5-35)

Cost: $175,800.00

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