Saturday, February 25, 2012

Mystic Star Communications Network


Carl Mather, Brandywine & Mystic Star

SELECT COMMITTEE ON ASSSASSINATIONS
Carl Amos Mather 3/20/78
Interview: Carl A. Mather & wife Mrs. Barbara Mather
Jack Morarity HSCA Interview Report:

“…Not that Carl isn’t used to being interviewed by government agents; he has a security clearance – and he has had since he started traveling with his company – he’s been with them for 21 years now. Has traveled overseas. His specific function deals with the installation of special electronics gear in aircraft. One such assignment caused him to be quartered in Brandywine, Maryland as he worked for some period of time at Andrews Air Force Base working on ‘Air Force Two’ – Vice President Johnson’s plane at the time.”

Mystic Star

The Mystic Star high-frequency single-side-band [SSB] communications system is installed at about 10-15 Air Force bases around the world, with remote transceivers controlled via telephone voice channels from Andrews AFB. This system is used for telephone traffic when Air Force One is out of range of other UHF links, but at least two SSB voice frequencies (and a full duplex 75 baud secure teletype channel called "India Oscar" which use a special anti-multipath modem) are maintained continuously and used for coordination of other communications links. Frequencies are chosen from a list of about 150 scattered throughout the available HF spectrum and are designated by "fox" code numbers which change from time to time.

Satellite communications are provided through Ultra High Frequency (UHF) Remote Switching Units (RSUs). The RSU is a UHF radio satellite ground entry point (GEP) station for the MSCMS. There are four RSU sites that provide the Mystic Star system with global UHF satellite coverage.

The four dedicated UHF stations: Brandywine, MD, San Vito, IT, Clark, RP, Wahiawa, HI. Each of these stations, except for Brandywine, has four dedicated radio levels; two wideband channels and two narrowband channels. The Brandywine station has six dedicated radio levels; four wideband channels and four narrowband channels for Mystic Star support. Satellite communications are under the control of the Master Control Center (MCC) at Offutt AFB, NE. The MCC has delegated its controlling authority to several Primary Control Centers (PCCs). Working within the Mystic Star system, and coordinated with the PCCs located at Brandywine, March AFB, CA; and Kadena AB, Japan. Brandywine is the PCC for the 23-degree west and Lincoln Experimental Satellite (LES). Brandywine 23W/100W…
Mystic Star
Mystic Star Network

This is a worldwide communications system, operated and maintained by elements of the United States Army, United States Navy, and United States Air Force under the control of the Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA) Operations Center.

Its network provides worldwide communications by directly controlling radio equipment located at Global HF system stations. It consists of ultra high frequency satellite and HF networks supporting Presidential, Vice President, cabinet members and other senior government officials, Joint Staff, VIP (very important persons) and command airborne missions.

The Mystic Star HF network consists of: a single master net control station (MNCS) located at Andrews AFB Maryland, interstation and intersite circuits, and relay and auxiliary communications subsystems. (Source Air Force Instruction 33-106)

MYSTIC STAR
Mystic Star Freqs

MISSION
The mission of the Mystic Star system is to provide high quality voice and data communications support. You might think that this is no different from the support provided by any other communications system, but it is. The Mystic Star system supports the communications needs of the President, Vice President, Cabinet Members, Foreign Heads of State, and other senior government and military officials while aboard Special Air Mission (SAM), VIP, or Command aircraft. These aircraft are assigned an access priority based on the type of mission and agency supported. There are four access priorities used with priority one missions having the highest priority.


PRIORITY ONE
This designation is afforded to the President of the United States during all Air Force One flights. It is also afforded to the Vice President during Air Force Two flights if the President is not flying. Requests for circuit activation are received from the White House Communications Agency (WHCA).

PRIORITY TWO
This designation is afforded to those missions activated in support of high government officials requiring continuous uninterrupted access to their departmental headquarters. It is normally limited to support of the Vice President (if the President is being supported at the same time), Secretary of Defense, Secretary of State, and the Office of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (OJCS). Requests for circuit activation are received from the Department of the Air Force or WHCA.

NOTE
The President, Vice President, Secretary of State, Secretary of Defense, and Office of the Joint Chiefs of Staff are the "TOP FIVE."

PRIORITY THREE
This designation is afforded to those missions activated for routine activities involving the National Emergency Airborne Command Post (NEACP) and other special missions as directed by OJCS. Requests for circuit activation are received from OJCS.


PRIORITY FOUR
This designation is afforded to high government or military officials aboard SAM or other special air mission aircraft, call sign SPAR. These individuals do not require continuous, uninterrupted access to their departmental headquarters. Missions supporting Cabinet Staff members, Congress, and DOD personnel are assigned this priority. Requests for circuit activation are received from the 89th Military Airlift Wing (MAW) at Andrews AFB. The NCS at Andrews will directly support all missions. Priority four missions may be referred to Global Command and Control System (GCCS) stations. This is only if the traffic load is such that Andrews cannot provide effective support. The shift supervisor will make this decision. The operator performing coordinator duties will contact the desired GCCS station to be sure the proper support is available.

http://www.fas.org/nuke/guide/usa/c3i/mystic_star.htm

The Mystic Star high-frequency single-side-band [SSB] communications system is installed at about 10-15 Air Force bases around the world, with remote transceivers controlled via telephone voice channels from Andrews AFB. This system is used for telephone traffic when Air Force One is out of range of other UHF links, but at least two SSB voice frequencies (and a full duplex 75 baud secure teletype channel called "India Oscar" which uses a special anti-multipath modem) are maintained continuously and used for coordination of other communications links. Frequencies are chosen from a list of about 150 scattered throughout the available HF spectrum and are designated by "fox" code numbers which change from time to time.

While its importance has greatly diminished due to various satellite communication networks, the mission of the Mystic Star network still exists. MS comms aren't really heard in the clear very often, due to both encryption as well as anti-jam technology used, but every once in a while, people do hear non-secure Mystic Star comms (even if they don't know that's what they're hearing).

In the good old days it was non-secure, analog single-channel HF voice.

As a high-school kid, I was lucky enough to have all the Mystic Star freqs & associated 'Foxtrot' channel numbers. The 'Foxtrot' identifiers were supposed to be switched around every 6 months for security reasons, but the reality was it didn't happen too often, and when it did, there was actually a pattern to it, so if you had all the freqs & heard the new Foxtrot ID's for at least two of them, it was easy to figure out the pattern.

http://cryptome.org/2012-info/mystic-star/0083.htm

MANAGING HIGH FREQUENCY RADIOS, PERSONAL WIRELESS COMMUNICATION SYSTEMS, AND THE MILITARY AFFILIATE RADIO SYSTEM
[Excerpts:]
3. MYST1C STAR System. This is a worldwide communications system, operated and maintained by elements of the United States Army, United States Navy, and United States Air Force under the control of the DISA Operations Center. Its network provides worldwide communications by directly controlling radio equipment located at Global HF system stations. It consists of ultra high frequency satellite and HF networks supporting Presidential, special air, commanders-in-chief, Joint Staff, very important persons, and command airborne missions.
3.1. The MYSTIC STAR HF Network consists of:
3.1.1. A single master net control station (MNCS) located at Andrews AFB MD.
3.1.2. Interstation and intersite circuits.
3.1.3. Relay and auxiliary communications subsystems.
3.2. AFNIC/ENAH:
3.2.1. Oversees the life-cycle management of the MYSTIC STAR Network.
3.2.2. Develops system architecture, network policy, and guidelines in conjunction with DISA.
3.2.3. Oversees the activities of the MYSTIC STAR Ops-Tech Manager’s Office.
3.2.4. Manages the life cycle, future planning, programming, and budgeting of MYSTIC STAR elements from a system perspective.
3.3. The MYSTIC STAR Operations Technical Manager:
3.3.1. Operates from the 789th Communications Squadron (789 CS/SCP), 1558 Alabama Ave, Suite 67, Andrews AFB MD 20762-6116.
3.3.2. Directly interfaces with the MYSTIC STAR users.
3.3.3. Evaluates system facilities.
3.3.4. Assesses network performance.
3.3.5. Compares performance trends to established standards.
3.3.6. Recommends improvements to criteria, documentation, or performance.
3.3.7. Works with personnel on all plans for operating, maintaining, managing, controlling, and configuring the network.
3.3.8. Recommends budgets for network operations.
3.3.9. Reports the operational status, performance status, or limitations of the network to AFNIC/ENAH.
3.3.10. Implements plans and special system configurations.
3.4. The Commander, 89th Communications Group:
3.4.1. Manages, operates, and evaluates the MNCS according to DISA Circular 310-70-79.
3.4.2. Gives network status updates to the MYSTIC STAR system manager through the operations technical manager.
3.4.3. Provides facility, administrative, and logistical support for the MNCS.

http://militarycomms.tripod.com/scope_command/mystic_star.html

STATION CONFIGURATION

Control of the entire Mystic Star network is the function of the Net Control Station (NCS) at Andrews. This includes all HF radio and UHF SATCOM equipment and the associated voice and data circuits. The Mystic Star Communications Management System is a computer controlled electronic switching system.

The MSCMS is comprised of 13 computer equipped consoles. Two computer data base/data communication (DB/DC) modules, primary and backup, are available to each operator. Two color graphics processors provide color graphics support. Two digital switching systems provide interconnectivity within the system. Communications Security (COMSEC) equipment, voice and data modems, and data terminals are available for providing secure communications support. A voice recorder/reproducer allows for the recording of all voice transmissions. A frequency management system, time generating and synchronizing unit, and a maintenance patching facility are the final subsystems that make up the MSCMS.

The equipment subsystems that make up the MSCMS are configured for secure or non-secure operations through a Local Area Network (LAN). The LAN connects all of the equipment within the station. You cannot see the LAN working, but you use it for the distribution of command and control processing functions.

SYSTEM CONFIGURATION

The Mystic Star system consists of eight primary and nine secondary HF radio stations located throughout the world. Each primary station provides four radio levels dedicated for Mystic Star use. Secondary stations provide at least one radio level dedicated for use by Mystic Star. A radio level consists of a transmitter, a receiver, and the associated equipment. A typical primary station consists of a Communications Relay Center (CRC), a transmitter site, and a receiver site. These are connected by transmission lines (buried cable) or microwave transmissions. The CRC consists of consoles, switches, and associated common control equipment.

The eight primary Mystic Star HF stations
Andrews
McClellan
Clark
Salinas
Croughton
Scott
Hickam
Yokota

The nine secondary Mystic Star HF stations and the number of dedicated radio levels each provides are:
Andersen 1
Lajes 1
Albrook 0
Loring 1
Ascension 1
MacDill 1
Elmendorf 1
Thule 0
Incirlik 2

All stations except for Andrews, MacDill, Loring, Salinas, and Scott are GCCS stations. GCCS stations have additional radio levels and operators available if required. The stations at Albrook and Thule are secondary stations when they are activated. They have no dedicated connectivity to the NCS at Andrews. Coordination by telephone with these stations is required to obtain the radio levels you require. The Incirlik station has yet to be brought on-line and is not available at this time.

Satellite communications are provided through Ultra High Frequency (UHF) Remote Switching Units (RSUs). The RSU is a UHF radio satellite ground entry point (GEP) station for the MSCMS. There are four RSU sites that provide the Mystic Star system with global UHF satellite coverage.

http://mt-milcom.blogspot.com/2006/10/mystic-star-network.html
Mystic Star Network

This is a worldwide communications system, operated and maintained by elements of the United States Army, United States Navy, and United States Air Force under the control of the Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA) Operations Center. Its network provides worldwide communications by directly controlling radio equipment located at Global HF system stations. It consists of ultra high frequency satellite and HF networks supporting Presidential, Vice President, cabinet members and other senior government officials, Joint Staff, VIP (very important persons) and command airborne missions. The Mystic Star HF network consists of: a single master net control station (MNCS) located at Andrews AFB Maryland, interstation and intersite circuits, and relay and auxiliary communications subsystems. (Source Air Force Instruction 33-106)

http://www.fas.org/nuke/guide/usa/c3i/mystic_star.htm

2 comments:

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Satellite Communications