High Frequency Global Communications System

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The High Frequency Global Communications System (HF-GCS) is a network of single sideband shortwave transmitters of the United States Air Force which is used to communicate with aircraft in flight, ground stations and some United States Navy surface assets. All worldwide receiving and transmitting sites in the HF-GCS system are remotely controlled from Andrews AFB. Before 1 October 2002 it was known as the Global High Frequency System (GHFS).

HF-GCS stations tend to operate in the aviation bands clustered around 5, 8 and 11/12 MHz, although other frequencies are in use. The primary HF-GCS voice frequencies are 4724.0 kHz, 6739.0 kHz, 8992.0 kHz, 11175.0 kHz, 13200.0 kHz and 15016.0 kHz. In addition to the HF-GCS, U.S. aircraft frequently use Military Affiliate Radio System (MARS) HF stations (13927.0 kHz) and Canadian Forces HF stations (11232.0 kHz) to relay messages.

One common use for the HF-GCS is to place telephone calls from the aircraft in flight by means of the Defense Switched Network (DSN) to an Air Force base to obtain local weather conditions, to arrange for refueling, and to inform the base of the number of passengers and crew. The HF-GCS also carries Emergency Action Messages.[1]

In addition to EAM's the HF-GCS also carries a few different types of messages. A higher priority code for orders is a Skyking Message, which is a time sensitive message for orders that need immediate attention. Force Direction Messages (FDM's) are also sent through the HF-GCS, although it is impossible to tell whether the message is an FDM or just another EAM being read.[1]

Although transmissions are often single sideband, the use of the ALE transmission mode is more and more common. Naval Special Warfare[clarification needed] HF-GCS complements the use of satellite communications between aircraft and ground stations.

Stations of the HF-GCS Network[1]

Closed Stations


  1. ^ a b c "The HF-GCS". October 2014. Retrieved October 28, 2014.