high frequency communications

April 1, 2020
By Eric E. Johnson, Ph.D., PE
Cpl. Jacob Worshan, USMC, holds an antenna during a long distance, high frequency communications training event held on Camp Schwab, Okinawa, Japan. This training between 1st and 3rd Marine Division helps the units maintain a low electromagnetic signature that is virtually impervious to jamming and interference, which allows for distributed operations without detection in the operating environment.  Photo by Lance Cpl. Christian Ayers, USMC

Concerns are growing about warfighters’ ability to communicate mission-critical information beyond line-of-sight in conflicts with peer and near-peer adversaries. Just in time, a new generation of highly capable high frequency radios is emerging as a viable solution when satellite communications are denied or unavailable. Fourth-generation wideband high frequency radios can satisfy military needs with the century-old wireless technology that is experiencing a resurgence of interest from warfighters worldwide.

February 1, 2020
By Col. Stephen Hamilton, USA, and Chief Warrant Officer 4 Judy Esquibel, USA
Staff Sgt. David Nelson, USA, a signal support systems specialist assigned to 218th Maneuver Enhancement Brigade in support of Resolute Castle 2018, explains near vertical incidence skywave antenna theory to members of Company B, 151st Expeditionary Signal Battalion during a high frequency radio class. Credit: Sgt. 1st Class Kimberly D. Calkins, ANG

As cyber threats continue to grow, so does the reality that digital satellite communications can be degraded and denied either through digital or electromagnetic means. If these capabilities are compromised, however, high frequency radio provides a means to continue communicating even beyond the line of sight by leveraging the ionosphere to refract radio signals back to earth.

The International Communication Union Telecommunication Standardization Sector designates the high frequency (HF) range as between 3 megahertz and 30 megahertz. While this method of communication was utilized extensively up through the 1990s, it began to lose traction in the military when the availability of satellite communications (SATCOM) increased.

December 9, 2019
By Kimberly Underwood
An HH-60 Pave Hawk helicopter assigned to the 305th Rescue Squadron at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Arizona, flies during an exercise above the waters of Tampa Bay, Florida, in November. The Air Force is pursuing innovative digital high frequency solutions as another communications tool for airmen and Joint warfighters. U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Ryan C. Grossklag

Advanced long-distance communication solutions are needed for the military of the future, especially for operations in contested environments. Innovative high frequency solutions offer communication over long distances in real time and provide an alternative to satellite communications. The U.S. military and industry are working to harness wideband high frequency technologies, which can offer higher data rates on a single high frequency communications channel.

June 1, 2018
By Kurt Stephens and Bill Whittington
An omnidirectional broadband antenna and 5 meter Rolatube mast system weighs 11 pounds and can be set up and ready for transmit and receive in less than six minutes by one person.

With the development and fielding of satellite communications throughout the U.S. military, today’s warfighters rarely use high frequency communications within and between units. International events have increased interest in high frequency communications as an alternative to connecting via satellites on current and future battlefields. U.S. military units already own a large amount of the radio equipment suitable for employment at various levels of the battlefield and for humanitarian relief as a redundant means of beyond-line-of-sight communications.

August 9, 2017
By George I. Seffers
The Secure Mobile Anti-Jam Reliable Tactical Terminal, a Desert Storm-era system, could save lives on the modern battlefield, says the NETCOM commander.

The Russian military has been using a clever—and lethal—propaganda technique against Ukrainian soldiers. They spam the soldiers’ cellphones with demoralizing messages and then take advantage of the resulting confusion to geolocate the soldiers’ cellphone signals and launch an attack.

December 1, 2015
By Maryann Lawlor
A robot may be the ultimate innovation, extending measurements to higher frequencies while characterizing antennas faster and more easily than previous NIST facilities.

The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) has created a robotic arm that is being used to measure the properties of antennas rapidly and accurately. The robot, formally named the Configurable Robotic Millimeter-Wave Antenna facility, may be the ultimate innovation, extending measurements to higher frequencies while characterizing antennas faster and more easily than previous NIST facilities.