By Marcus C. Walden

Abstract: This paper presents a comparison of Chilton ionosonde critical frequency measurements against vertical-incidence HF propagation predictions using ASAPS (Advanced Stand Alone Prediction System) and VOACAP (Voice of America Coverage Analysis Program). This analysis covers the time period from 1996 to 2010 (thereby covering solar cycle 23) and was carried out in the context of UK-centric near-vertical incidence skywave (NVIS) frequency predictions. Measured and predicted monthly median frequencies are compared, as are the upper and lower decile frequencies (10% and 90% respectively). The ASAPS basic MUF predictions generally agree with fxI (in lieu of fxF2) measurements, whereas those for VOACAP appear to be conservative for the Chilton ionosonde, particularly around solar maximum. Below ~4 MHz during winter nights around solar minimum, both ASAPS and VOACAP MUF predictions tend towards foF2, which is contrary to their underlying theory and requires further investigation. While VOACAP has greater errors at solar maximum, those for ASAPS increase at low or negative T-index values. Finally, VOACAP errors might be large when T-SSN exceeds ~15.

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