CNET también está disponible en español.

Ir a español

Don't show this again

HolidayBuyer's Guide

The van and the whale

Nose up

C-5

The RV

The E

Antenna and the laptop

Ghost of the E

Monitoring

C-5 rear upper deck

Main deck

Flight deck

SAN ANTONIO, Texas--When the president of the United States flies anywhere, it goes without saying that he and his entourage want to be sure that any communications being generated on board Air Force One are safe from prying eyes (or ears).

The same is true of communications aboard any Air Force aircraft, and that's why members of the 24th Air Force, based out of Lackland Air Force Base here, work hard to "harden" every plane the service flies, ensuring all communications are safe from eavesdroppers.

As part of Road Trip 2014, CNET reporter Daniel Terdiman traveled to Lackland to see how the Air Force secures its aircraft and their communications from any kind of unintentional leakage.

Working out of a special white RV parked alongside a C-5 -- the Air Force's largest airplane -- technicians demonstrated how they test for leaked signals.

Click here to read my full story on how the Air Force does this work.

Caption by / Photo by Daniel Terdiman/CNET

The Lockheed C-5 Galaxy is the Air Force's largest airplane, a cargo plane capable of being refueled in mid-air. Cargo can be loaded from either the front, or the rear.

Caption by / Photo by Daniel Terdiman/CNET

The C-5, manufactured by Lockheed since 1968, has to be "re-glassed," or revamped, after years of service. When that happens, the 24th Air Force has to make sure all its new or reconfigured communications systems are hardened against unintentional leakage.

Caption by / Photo by Daniel Terdiman/CNET

The special RV used to monitor communications emissions from Air Force aircraft. The RV can be flown around the world, as the Air Force works to test every aircraft the service flies.

Caption by / Photo by Daniel Terdiman/CNET

As a demonstration, a laptop aboard the C-5 was set up with this "E" on its screen. The idea was to see if the monitors in the RV could "see" the signal.

Caption by / Photo by Daniel Terdiman/CNET

A special antenna was set up alongside the laptop, in order to see whether the signal from the computer could be read in the nearby RV.

Caption by / Photo by Daniel Terdiman/CNET

In the RV, a technician caught an image of the "E," appearing almost ghost-like in a sea of electronic noise. The point was made: the laptop on the plane was not secure enough to be used without stricter security measures.

Caption by / Photo by Daniel Terdiman/CNET

Two Air Force technicians in the RV monitor the signal coming from the laptop on board the C-5.

Caption by / Photo by Daniel Terdiman/CNET

The double-decker C-5 is 247 feet long, and its upper deck, behind the flight deck, is longer than some other entire airplanes.

Caption by / Photo by Daniel Terdiman/CNET

A look into the lower deck of a giant Lockheed C-5 Galaxy. The plane is said to be able to fit at least six Greyhound buses.

Caption by / Photo by Daniel Terdiman/CNET

The flight deck of the Lockheed C-5 Galaxy.

Caption by / Photo by Daniel Terdiman/CNET
Published: