5 February 2012. Add Esterline airborne communication systems.
4 February 2012
Mystic Star Presidential Global Communications System
Related Obama phones:
This device below is shown in a
House photo of Marine One uploaded to Flickr on January 31, 2012. It
appears to be embedded in a side table and rotated open from a closed position.
Note angled position for easy access from the president's seat.
A reader proposes that the photos show a unit of the MYSTIC STAR communications
system installed on presidential and VIP aircraft for global communications.
A system made by several companies over the years: Loren Data, E-Systems
Melpar Division, Raytheon, perhaps others.
Several descriptions of Mystic Star are online (no photos we could find)
going back at least to 1990:
AIR FORCE INSTRUCTION 33-106
9 JANUARY 2002
Incorporating Through Change 2, 12 FEBRUARY 2010
Communications and Information
MANAGING HIGH FREQUENCY RADIOS, PERSONAL WIRELESS COMMUNICATION SYSTEMS,
AND THE MILITARY AFFILIATE RADIO SYSTEM
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
3.1. The MYSTIC STAR HF Network consists of:
3.1.1. A single master net control station (MNCS) located at Andrews AFB
3.1.2. Interstation and intersite circuits.
3.1.3. Relay and auxiliary communications subsystems.
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 Managers
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
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
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.
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).
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.
The President, Vice President, Secretary of State, Secretary of Defense,
and Office of the Joint Chiefs of Staff are the "TOP FIVE."
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.
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
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
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.
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
The nine secondary Mystic Star HF stations and the number of dedicated radio
levels each provides are:
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.
The four dedicated UHF stations:
San Vito, IT
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
March is the PCC for the 100-degree west satellite.
Kadena controls the access to the 72- and 172-degree east satellites.
The area of coverage for each satellite.
RSU Accessible Satellites
San Vito 23W/72E
Satellite Area of Coverage
72E Pacific/Indian Ocean
Friday, October 13, 2006
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)
Note: I have seen less and less monitor reports on this system over the last
few years. It is widely believed that encryption is the reason for this decline
in Mystic Star traffic. Frequency/Designator Matrix (USB/LSB/Encryption)
April 29, 1998
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.
R -- 89 COM-Mystic Star
Notice Date: 12/17/2009
Notice Type: Special Notice
NAICS: 541511 Custom Computer Programming Services
Contracting Office: Department of the Air Force, Direct Reporting Unit -
Air Force District of Washington, 316th CONS, 1535 Command Drive, Andrews
AFB, Maryland, 20762-6500
ZIP Code: 20762-6500
Solicitation Number: FA4416-09-F-A002
Archive Date: 1/7/2010
Point of Contact: Bryn L. Riska, Phone: 3019813393, Catherine B. Perry, Phone:
E-Mail Address: email@example.com, Catherine.Perry@afncr.af.mil,
NOTICE OF INTENT TO INCREASE CONTRACT CEILING The 316th Contracting Squadron,
Andrews AFB, Maryland, intends to negotiate on a sole source basis, under
the authority of FAR 6.302-1, with Raytheon Company, of Falls Church, VA,
an increase in CLIN 0002 - Time and Materials Reimbursable amount for delivery
order FA4416-09-F-A002. The increase is necessary to accomplish essential
upgrades to existing Mystic Star Locations. The Mystic Star System provides
the 89th Communications Squadron, Andrews AFB, MD the continuance of software
development, hardware maintenance, and engineering services as required in
maintaining upgrades to the Mystic Star UHF 2000 systems. Interested persons
may identify their interest and capability to respond to the requirement
by 1200 Noon EST, 23 Dec 09 via electronic mail to the POC's listed on this
notice. This notice of intent is not a request for competitive proposals.
All responses received within 10 days after the date of publication of this
special notice will be considered by the Government. No solicitation package
will be issued. A determination by the Government not to compete this proposed
contract based upon responses to this notice is solely within the discretion
of the Government. Information received will normally be considered solely
for the purpose of determining whether to conduct a competitive procurement.
Interested parties are encouraged to monitor Federal Business Opportunities
and General Service Administration (GSA) Advantage website to view other
316th CONS procurement opportunities. All questions shall be submitted via
electronic mail to MSgt Bryn Riska at firstname.lastname@example.org and Ms Catherine
Perry at email@example.com. Expressions of interest can be submitted
by electronic mail to the parties identified above. Point of Contact MSgt
Bryn Riska, Contract Specialist, Phone 301-981-3393, Fax 301-981-1910, email
firstname.lastname@example.org Catherine Perry Contracting Officer, Phone 301-981-1256,
Fax 301-981-1910, email email@example.com
Place of Performance
Address: 1558 Alabama Ave, Andrews AFB, Maryland, 20762, United States Zip
01-01-2009, 11:41 PM
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
The SATCOM stuff is great, but because it requires so much technology &
infrastructure, HF is still a necessity for major, critical comm platforms
such as 'Marine 1,' 'Air Force One,' etc. & while if they use HF they'll
try to utilize full-time secure voice with or without freq-hopping, if they
absolutely need to they can default back to non-secure, analog single-channel
HF voice like in the good old days.
As a high-school kid, I was lucky enough to have all the MS 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.
Another cool tidbit -- back in the 1980s, Andrews AFB accessed some of the
overseas remote sites (for example, Pirmasens, Germany) via non-secure, analog
commercial satellite subcarriers, which could be tuned in by any TVRO nut
who knew where to look & listen.
COMMERCE BUSINESS DAILY ISSUE OF MAY 5,1995 PSA#1340
89 CONS/LGCV, 1419 Menoher Drive, Andrews AFB, MD 20331-6500
J -- MYSTIC STAR SYSTEM. Sol FA4416-95-R0008 due 070195. Contact Stacy MacKay
(301) 981-2308, No Collect Call Will Be Accepted. Mystic Star Special Air
Mission (SAM) Network Control Station (NCS) and Remote Switching Units (RSU)
Logistic and Technical Support. It is the Air Force's intention to award
a sole source contract to E-Systems, Melpar Division for the logistic and
technical support of the Mystic Star System. The Mystic Star Systems provides
secured and unsecured data and voice communications for Air Force One and
VIP Aircraft through a HF and satellite worldwide network. The logistic support
(end item and printed circuit card repair) may require test jigs and model
for modification and repair. The Air Force requires worldwide technical and
logistic support of the RSUs as well as service to support a wide range of
areas including engineering support, systems fault isolation, system level
end-to-end expertise and software/firmware maintenance. Technical services
consists of the Depot Logistic Support, Technical and Operational Support,
On-Site Systems Engineering Support, Worldwide Emergency Technical Support,
Maintenance and Upgrade for Software, Firmware Support. The protocol converter,
network interface equipment and various other communication components are
critical to the operation of the systems and are proprietary hardware and
firmware belonging to E-Systems. The ability to repair or replace these items
as needed is essential to the performance of this contract. The Government
does not have Level III drawing or rights to the technical data. (121)
Loren Data Corp. http://www.ld.com (SYN# 0054 19950504\J-0008.SOL)