This Arma Reforger Guide should be able to tell you everything about radios in ArmA:R that has been discovered by the player-base. When you join a game and have a radio equipped you can press “G” to check out the options of communication and turn off or on as you wish. But to communicate you has to hold Cap Locks. If you double tap Cap Locks it will lock it so you don’t have to hold it. Would not recommend “hot micing” for public games.
If you have multiple radios you can keep pressing G to swap. Every time you press Cap Locks you’re talking on the last radio you selected when you pressed G.
When you talk on the radio you also talk in proximity! That means the enemy can also hear you!
But where do you start?
You just joined a game and the squad you joined doesn’t have a “squad chat”. This might be confusing at first. They might be all the way across the map so when you do speak you can’t be heard (there’s a range for the radios), they might be lone wolfs and not even care for you, or just learning like you as well. But text chat works all the way across any map!
If you’re playing the conflict game-mode and notice the frequencies between objectives, those are not frequencies intended for you to switch to. But they will point to adjacent communication stations/relay towers at various military sites.
These “objectives” use something called repeater systems and they use two different radio frequencies; the mobiles transmit on one frequency (which is you), and the repeater station receives those transmission and transmits on a second frequency (the red line connecting other communication stations/relay towers that is owned by your team).
These repeater systems red lines are notional but they do extend your communication throughout your team’s network while staying on whatever frequency you want. Remember, there is no need to change to the repeater’s channel.
Sometimes squads use their default frequency (which is lame and easily compromised! More on this later). Some players might have objective based communication where they change it each or every other objective to keep comms secured. Do not feel intimidated by how complex it seems, it’s fairly quite simple.
Frequencies are simplified in ArmA:R to simplify game-play. In reality these radios have significantly more channels than the game. I will show you the real life comparison and then I will simplify it. You do not have to read the real life comparison to understand, if you would like, you can skip to the next section which is Part 2.
What is a Hz? Most likely your monitor is running at 60 Hz, 120 Hz, 144 Hz, etc. It’s for number of occurrences of a repeating event per unit of time and is defined as one cycle per second. 60 Hz monitor refreshes everything on screen 60 times a second. Now instead of refresh rate for a screen, think of the full cycle of an up and down motion on a wave. Multiply it by 1000 and we get 60 kHz, which would mean 60,000 times a second. Multiple it by 1000 and we get 60 MHz (megahertz) which would mean 60,000,000 times a second.
Let’s count how many 0’s there are. There are seven 0’s after the 6 so it will be 10⁷ which shows us the frequency we’re operating on are Radio Waves!
The US Army has two radios in game that can operate on 60 MHz while the Soviet Army cannot get that high.
As you can see in the next section, everyone will mainly be using Very High Frequency (VHF) which is between 30 MHz – 300 MHz
The Soviet has a few bands that barely go into High Frequency (HF) which is between 3 MHz – 30 MHz
In modern real life you would use 5 kHz steps/band (0.005 MHz) for infantry.
These bands are how radios jump channels without getting interference from other channels. Dependent mainly on how technologically advanced your radio is. Your car radio (FM) uses a 100 kHz band so it steps at every 0.1 MHz when you change stations.
In the cold war era you would use 50 kHz steps/band (0.05 MHz) to change channels (depending on the expensive military radio used). This can be nearly 1000 channels back in this time.
ArmA:R has simplified this by moving a decimal placement over from what real cold war technology used. Think of the more modern FM radio now as mentioned above. Except the “half-steps” moved upwards due to the change as well. The 50 kHz steps from the cold war era basically changed to 500 kHz steps (0.5 MHz).
So let’s say you want to use 3 channels; you can no longer use 69.8 MHz, 69.9 MHz, 70.0 MHz like you would a car radio using FM when changing channels because of this.
The last “x” (which is in lower case and in bold) in the example in blue text shows the decimal placement that changes from a 0 to a 5.
What I put in as an “O” is now obsolete in game from the real life comparison.
Easy! Minimum Channel Spacing is now 0.5 MHz. Way less channels to manage. Under 100 channels.
So back to wanting those 3 channels, an adjacent number of what you wanted now has to be 60.0 MHz, 60.5 MHz, or 70.0 MHz. More on this after some visuals on what the radios look like.
There are three factions you can play in ArmA:R. The US Army only uses their radios while the Soviet Army and the FIA (Freedom and Independence Army) share the same radios.
Here are what the radios you can use in game look like:
Mid-range, manpack radio transceiver, used by the Soviet military (and FIA) for tactical communications at company-level and below.
AN/PRC stands for “Army Navy / Portable Radio Communications”.
A nickname for this is “prick [radio number]”.
E.g. “Everyone grab a prick 77”
Now we know the four base usable radios in ArmA:R.
By pressing G and using the scroll wheel you scan through all channels in 0.5 “steps” with every scroll bump. We are left with a limited amount of channels ranging from their minimum to highest frequency.
We can use the Soviet’s R-148 as an example as it has the least amount of channels:
This tells us we have 33 max channels to choose from.
With this is mind, again, when you press G and scroll through the frequencies in the 0.5 MHz bandwidth you are left with these amount of channels in bold:
Soviet Army / FIA
To visualize the range of the radios to the map you’ll have to understand the bar scale on the map. Here I’ve taken a screenshot when I zoomed out The bar scale reads 1000 meters (or 1 km). So each white/black bar is 200 meters.
Shown above is the 1.3 km range of the portable handheld radio that all the factions use.
Notice how I zoomed in a little bit and there are significantly more grid squares. The bar scale on the bottom left now shows 100 meters (0.1 km).
Shown above is the red circle with the 2 km range of the manpack field radio that all the factions use. The smaller blue circle is also shown inside that shows the 1.3 km portable handheld radios’ range.
Be aware that the further you get from your intended receiver the more static and noise there will be when transmitting. More on this a few sections below.
You can carry as many radios as your inventory weight can hold and each one can have their own frequency. In this photo I have over 40 radios, most of them are off screen.
You don’t have to have a radio selected to receive but you do need to have a radio selected to transmit, and it will only be on that selected radio frequency. Given this, you cannot transmit on multiple frequencies at once, but you can listen to all frequencies if you have enough radios (would not recommend as that’s a lot of radios you’ll have to carry). Stick with 1-2 radios.
All radios in the game are two-way radios. Meaning that you can transmit and receive radio waves.
-A radio that is one-way can only either transmit (radio station) or receive (car radio). No radios in game are one-way.
All radios in the game are full-duplex mode. Meaning both parties can transmit and receive simultaneously.
-A half-duplex mode means that you can either transmit or receive, but not both at once. If you were to press to talk you would not be able to listen to anyone broadcasting. No radios in game are half-duplex.
-A cell phone is an example of a full-duplex two-way radio.
All radios in the game use “dual channel” according to the in-game manual. Which is a made up term but means your radio can both receive and transmit on one channel and receive only on a secondary channel. This secondary channel is set to a default faction-based frequency.
-In real life it’s called “Scan”. You can select a frequency to scan (if your radio can do it) to constantly listen/receive from another frequency. E.g. I’m transmitting on 35 MHz but I am scanning (listening/receiving) on 35 MHz, 37.5 MHz, 52 MHz, and 63.5 MHz. I can switch between channels at will.
Now that we understand all radios in this game are two-way, full-duplex, and can scan another channel. What is the other channel we are stuck to scan? When you press G while you only have one radio equipped; it only shows one current channel. Well that extra channel being scanned is permanent, faction-based, cannot be changed, and at times appears to be hidden. It is named “Platoon”.
For the US Army it is 48 MHz
For the Soviet Army it is 42 MHz
It is unknown what the FIA is but since they use Soviet gear we can guesstimate it’s also 42 MHz.
Shown above is the R-107M when playing Conquest as the Soviet Army. As you can see when I changed radio channels from 42 MHz to 41.5 MHz I am no longer transmitting on the “Platoon” station but I am still able to receive others transmitting on 42 MHz.
You can also see the other default squad channels. The channel names don’t mean anything other than labeling that squad’s name to a default frequency and setting a member of that squad to it’s frequency when they spawn. Squads will start at the lowest handheld frequency when the game starts and every new squad is a band higher. This is why it’s also the most easily compromised.
Notice how Buran-34 isn’t highlighted when I have a handheld radio set at 38 MHz. I am still receiving on 38 MHz, just not transmitting.
So if you and your one radio is set to 38.5 MHz an in the US Army faction, you will also receive all messages from 48 MHz without choice.
Use your Platoon station for coordinating movement across map, or reporting new new globalized enemy movement. Do not use it to communicate to your team while assaulting a city. Use your other channels for that.
Fortunately the encryption seems to be in the simplest form as can be.
When you use frequency 38.5 and so does the enemy why can you not hear them on their radio when they transmit? It’s because in real life you would use a cryptographic key to load into the radios before-hand. You can also think of it the same way a VPN Tunnel works.
Only your team has the key already programmed into the radios when you spawn, no work needed. Once your radio picks up the same radio transmission from your team it will do the hard work and decrypt everything without you noticing. But because the enemy uses a different key when they spawn your radio has no idea how to decrypt their transmissions.
This is the idea that is mimicked from real life. There are no actual “keys” in game that you can manipulate. Instead this is all implied. But works the same nonetheless.
Wait, what about the FIA since they use the same radios as the Soviet Army? Would you be able to pick up a R-148 or R-107M from a dead FIA combatant and compromise the Soviet team?
No, because it’s back to the keys. The FIA AIs or players spawn with team-based keys even though they share the same radio type.
The in-game manual states “However, encryption cannot protect against captured radios and codebooks!”
“Codebooks” is another game element left to be discovered!
In Game Master there are settings to allow the 2km manpack field radio (AN/PRC-77 & R-107M) to be a spawn point as long as it’s equipped to a player that’s alive. You will Not be able to spawn on an AI that is wearing a manpack.
Providing your side has a radio operator alive and within signal range, friendly players can respawn on their position. The higher a radio operator’s rank, the more frequently units can respawn.
You can acquire a radio set from a Mobile Command Unit or from supplies, located inside tents or physical structures, serving as Tactical Operation Centers. In addition, you may also collect a radio set from operators in the field or recover them from casualties. Note that the maximum number of radio operators may be limited or disabled altogether, depending on server settings.
Mobile Command Units can be requested from motor pools and enable all players of a particular faction to respawn on its location. Moreover, it also extends your side’s radio coverage, offering an alternative to seizing nearby bases. However, both features require the command unit to be properly deployed. This is achieved by interacting with the rear of the vehicle.
The last channel they were on should be what you have when you equip their radio.
You can scroll through all the frequencies and listen into any channels the enemy might be broadcasting on.The channel that you have when you picked up the radio might be their squad’s channel or mission/objective channel. You can use this for your own strategic will. Should you listen and convey the information to your team? Maybe you like the idea of talking to the enemy and bait them into an ambush or to ruse them to give out their location.
If I were to go assault an objective the other team owns and I have their radio I like to go through 38, 38.5, 39, and 39.5 and ask for a Radio Check. If I get a response back I know that there’s most likely enemies there. I stay on that channel during the assault and call out false bearing on the compass from a direction we’re not attacking from right after the first shots are fired.
Since we’ve talked about Platoon Channels you can always count on that as well. Platoon channels are always active on any radio that’s not turned off. You can easily ask for a SitRep on 42 Mhz (for Soviet) and 48 Mhz (for US Army) and there will be a weak link that will probably talk to you.
Here is a YouTuber that obtained the enemy’s radio.
To counter this you can use brevity codes, learn who your teammates are, or press “P” and look at the player list to see if the person talking is on your side.
Manual scans: Once you obtain the enemy comms, you can manually scroll slowly through all of their channels back and forth raking the frequencies until you hear chatter. The wait time to pick up communication if they’re broadcasting is relatively quick; about as fast as you hear the radio click sound when switching channels.
An additional countermeasure is to make sure you’re not on any of your default starter channels. These are the first to be compromised and can also be checked by pressing “P” and viewing your teammates frequencies per squad that they spawn with.
With the encryption mentioned earlier I must say that you cannot take the “key” and let your teammates in enemy communications with your factions radio. They must kill the enemy and take their radio if they want to listen/talk to the other side as well.
When you capture an objective by using the sites R123M or AN/GRC-160 radio it does nothing more than capture that objective. These are the radios mentioned in the very first section on the table.
Since the US Army has the AN/PRC-68 with 73 channels and the AN/PRC-77 with 93 channels, it’s a lot more favorable compared to their Soviet / FIA counterparts that have the R-148 with 33 channels and the R-107M with 65 channels due to the fact that you can twart the enemy’s attempts to manually scan your frequencies unintentionally just by having a larger range for them to comb through.
Radio jamming is the deliberate jamming, blocking or interference with wireless communications. In some cases jammers work by the transmission of radio signals that disrupt communications by decreasing the signal-to-noise ratio. Let’s say you pick up the enemy radio and want to “jam” them. If you’re in range you can scream continuously into their radio until they are forced to change frequencies. Then you can manually scan until you find their channel again maybe even play a soundboard. I bet they’ll love it.! WARNING !
Players can Mute someone by pressing P and then the 3 dots by their name.
Since we’ve talked about HF and VHF I figured it would be good to explain the difference on how the radios transmit information through the “air”. If the developers based radios from real life there are a few means to troubleshooting poor sound quality. If they made it simplistic and only by distance, than the best bet is to just walk towards the source.
BUT IF THEY DID make it more realistic.. Line Of Sight (LOS) can play a big portion into your quality. I noticed while walking up a steep hillside I got a flux of great comm quality to terrible static comm. This makes me believe it isn’t just distance-based.
From reading the in-game manual it states for signal range “Operators should be aware of signal strengths and the position of stations within a network, as transmissions may be too far away to be received, leaving groups incommunicado.”. This most likely is referring to the conquest game-mode and not LOS.
I would recommend someone in the squad having a 2 km range radio to communicate back to the rear vital information.
High Frequency 3 MHz – 30 MHz
The dominant means of long-distance communication in this band is skywave (“skip”) propagation, in which radio waves directed at an angle into the sky refract back to Earth from layers of ionized atoms in the ionosphere.
Very High Frequency 30 MHz – 300 MHz
Radio waves in the VHF band propagate mainly by line-of-sight and ground-bounce paths; unlike in the HF band there is only some reflection at lower frequencies from the ionosphere (skywave propagation). They do not follow the contour of the Earth as ground waves and so are blocked by hills and mountains. They can penetrate building walls and be received indoors, although in urban areas reflections from buildings cause multipath propagation, which can interfere with television reception. Atmospheric radio noise and interference (RFI) from electrical equipment is less of a problem in this and higher frequency bands than at lower frequencies.
Try to gain altitude if you’re in a valley. If you’re on the wrong side of the hill you might have to get to the other side depending where the transmitter/receiver is.
This is all how quality of sound works if it’s implemented in the game. It is unknown for now but LOS seems to be the most plausible besides radios just being distance-based.
Never interrupt an ongoing conversation.
Conduct radio checks to ensure others can understand your messages.
Say: “[Their call sign], this is [your call sign], radio check, over.”
Wait for: “[Your call sign], this is [their call sign], roger, over.”
“5 by 5” is an older term used to assess radio signals, as in 5 out of 5 units for both signal strength and readability. Other terms similar to 5×5 are “LOUD AND CLEAR” or “Lima Charlie”.
Never say “Repeat.” Instead use “Say again.” Repeat is to repeat that last order, which is generally an order for mortars, artillery, or to fire on the enemy again.
Military Radio Protocol Best Practices:
Identify with whom you want to communicate by using their call sign.
Be direct and short when communicating.
Speak slowly and clearly. The further the distance the more helpful this will be.
Spell out letters and numbers, using the NATO Phonetic Alphabet.
Use correct lingo and prowords to reduce confusion and shorten transmitted messages.
ACKNOWLEDGE/HOW COPY: A directive requiring the recipient to confirm they received a message.
BREAK: Used to break a message for a pause before relaying the next part of the message.
CLEAR: Used to clear a message in order to relay another one of higher importance.
CORRECT: Confirms the message broadcasted is correct.
DISREGARD THIS TRANSMISSION-OUT: This means “Forget this message, it was sent in error.”
I SAY AGAIN: Used to repeat a sent message because it was either misunderstood or extremely important.
OUT: Used to end a transmission.
OVER: Used to end a message while asking for a reply..
ROGER/COPY: Used to confirm receipt of a message.
SAY AGAIN: Used to ask a sender to repeat their last transmission.
SILENCE: Used to signal an immediate stop of all communication until the silence is lifted.
SILENCE LIFTED: Used to lift a temporary silence of communication.
THIS IS: Used to transmit a message from one call sign to another. But, some messages omit this proword. Example: “Delta 1, Delta 2, over” vs. “Delta 1 THIS IS Delta 2, over.”
WILCO: Used to indicate receipt of — and compliance with — the sent instructions.
WRONG: Used to say your last transmission was incorrect. The correct version is ___.
More Prowords, obtained from https://militaryalphabet.net/military-radio-communication-tips-and-tactics/#h-radio-checks:
ALL AFTER: This references a portion of the message as being “all that follows.”
ALL BEFORE: This references a portion of the message as being “all that proceeds.”
AUTHENTICATE: Used by a sender to ask the called station to authenticate the message that follows.
AUTHENTICATION IS: The transmission authentication of this message is ____.
CORRECTION: Corrects a misheard message.
DO NOT ANSWER: Used to indicate that the called station shouldn’t reply. The sender also should end with the proword “OUT.”
EXEMPT: Those addressed after this proword are exempt from the message sent and should disregard its contents.
FIGURES: Used to signal that numbers will follow.
FROM: Used to indicate who the message is from (its originator).
GROUPS: Used to signal a message that contains numbers of groups.
I AUTHENTICATE: Used to authenticating a message with what follows.
IMMEDIATE: Used in the most dire of situations that require immediate implementation and top priority.
INFO: The sender requests information from the addressees immediately following this proword.
I READ BACK: Used to repeat the instructions back to a sender to confirm the recipients understood them correctly.
I SPELL: Used to spell out the words that follow phonetically, using the NATO Phonetic Alphabet.
I VERIFY: Used to verify a request and repeated to verify a sent message.
MESSAGE: Used to indicate that a message must be recorded.
MORE TO FOLLOW: Used to convey that more will follow from the message initiator.
PRIORITY: Used for important messages that take precedence over regular conversation.
READ BACK: Used to ask a message recipient to repeat back the message exactly as received.
RELAY (TO): Transmit this message to [CALL SIGN(S)].
ROUTINE: Used to convey that the message being transmitted is routine and normal, having less importance.
SPEAK SLOWER: Used to request that the person speaking speak more slowly.
TIME: Used to convey the time frame for complying with the message.
TO: Used to address those who must comply with the message.
UNKNOWN STATION: Station identity is unknown that is attempting to be communicated with.
VERIFY: Used to verify a message.
WAIT: Used to indicate that a sender or recipient must pause for a few seconds.
WORD AFTER: The word of the message to which I have reference is that which follows … ___.
WORD BEFORE: The word of the message to which I have reference is that which proceeds … ___.
WORD TWICE: Used to say the words twice to make a message more easily understood.
Depending on the game mode, you might be dropped in a Milsim server. If so, type in chat to be teleported to a squad if you cannot find them. Generally only squad leaders or radio operators will use the radios for milsims. If you’re playing conflict, jump in a vehicle or spawn where your other friendlies are and ask if it’s okay to join them and what frequency you should put your radio to.
Remember, at the end of the day this is still a fun game and there’s no need to be toxic to others if they’re not up to par with the radio as you’d like them to be.
I hope you enjoyed this guide. If you see something is wrong feel free to message me or post a comment. I love you all.