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HF Global Communications System (HFGCS)


UPDATE 7/17/2014
Today a missile downed Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777. At 2150 UTC I started hearing EAM messages on UHF 323.800 MHz, this is very rare!. Also an hour before the E-4B (Doomsday) aircraft appears on my mode-s receiver descending. I would guess he is landing at Patrick AFB (about 40 miles south of me). This isn't that rare, but today? Added to that a E-6B TACAMO aircraft also appears on my Mode-S about same time as the EAM message, probably who was broadcasting the EAM. The ORDERWIRE frequency of 338.950 MHz also had an ORDERWIRE (WBFM) transmission. Could this all be related? Wanna take bets!

You can hear the recordings here: Audio Library


The Global HF System (GHFS), now called the HF Global Communications System (HFGCS) was stated by the US Air Force in June of 1992. This system was created by consolidating several other USAF HF networks, including the Strategic Air Command "Giant Talk" system. The goal of the system was to develope a worldwide HF network for providing Command & Control HF communictions to all authorized DOD aircraft and ground stations.

When you hear an aircraft or any stations calling "MAINSAIL" on any of the HFGCS frequencies this is a "general" call for any ground station to answer and provided the calling stations with what ever he needs. Any HFGCS ground station will respond to the call "MAINSAIL". Depending on the service required, the station bay request the aircraft to change to a discrete frequency for improved and extended service.

EAM's or Emergency Action Message. Another very important aspect of the HFGCS is the transmission of EAM's. EAM's are the coded military orders or bulletins that have the highest priority. When EAM's are broadcast, ALL other users of the system are to standby. If you hear a voice giving a long series of letters phonically this is an EAM.

SKYKING messages are special EAM's. These presumably could be the nuclear go/no-go codes. There was a higher than normal number of EAM's and SKYKING messages being transmitted after the attackes of 9/11/01. Urgent SKYKING messages are repeated three or four times instead of the usual two. SKYKING is a group callsign, meaning "Any this net." "Do not answer" is the standard procedure ofr self-authenticating broadcasts, meaning that recipients don't need to give away their positions or existence by challenging the orders. While tuned to any of the HFGCS frequncies and hear "SKYKING SKYKING Do not answer" you can bet you're hearing a very important, highest priority, and heavily encrypted message!



Frequency KHz-USB Description
4709 Sigonella
4724 Andrews, Ascension, Elmendorf, Guam, Hickam, Lejes, Offutt, Salinas, Thule, Yokota
6712 Andrews, Ascension, Guam, Lajes
6724 Sigonella
6739 Ascension, Elmendorf, Guam, Hickam, Salinas, Offutt, Thule, Yokota
8992 Andrews, Ascension, Elmendorf, Guam, Hickam, Offutt, Salinas, Thule, Yokota
9007 Sigonella
9025 Lejes
10780 (1) AF Eastern Test Range (Backup for Ascension), Cape Canaveral, Antigua, Ascension, Maui
11175 (2) Andrews, Ascension, Elmendorf, Guam, Hickam, Salinas, Offutt, Thule, Yokota
11181 Lajes
11271 Andrews, Ascension, Elmendorf, Guam, Hickam, Lejes, Offutt, Salinas, Thule, Yokota
13212 Lajes
15016 Andrews, Ascension, Elmendorf, Guam, Hickam, Lajes, Offutt, Salinas, Thule, Yokota
15038 Sigonella
20390 AF Eastern Test Range (Backup for Ascension), Cape Canaveral, Antigua, Ascension, Maui

Footnotes:
(1) - 10780 is usually the primary frequency NASA uses to communicate with the Booster Recovery Ships during a Space Shuttle Launch. Start listening to this a day before up to a few hours before any Shuttle launch and you'll hear Cape Radio on this frequency. This frequency is sometimes used during non Shuttle launches as well.

(2) - 11175 is probably the most active of all the HFGCS frequencies. If you want to hear your first military station, set you radio on this freq. and usually within an hour you'll hear something. Even with a portable radio and telescoping antenna you should be able to catch some Military comms on this frequency (your radio must be capiable of receiving USB).



HFGCS Ground Station Locations
Gound Station Location
Andersen Andersen AFB, Guam near Agana
Andrews Andrews AFB, near Washington, DC
Ascension Ascension Island Auxiliary Air Base in the South Atlantic Ocean
Croughton Croughton Air Base, England, UK
Elmendorf Elmendorf AFB, Alaska
Hickam Hickam AFB, Hawaii near Pearl Harbor
Incirlik Incirlik Air Base Turkey In May 2001 Incirlik was replaced by Sigonella
Lajes Lajes Air Base, Azores - North Atlantic Ocean
Offutt Offutt AFB, Omaha, NE
Salinas Salinas, Puerto Rico, This is only a remote for Andrews.
Thule Thule Air Base, Greenland
Yokota Yokota Air Base, Japan
West Coast McClellan AFB, Sacramento, CA NOTE: This was called McClellan but in January 2001 now is known as "West Coast"