The second Advanced Extremely High Frequency military communication satellite, built by a Lockheed Martin team for the U.S. Air Force, was successfully launched May 4 from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla., aboard a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket.
AEHF builds on the success of the Lockheed Martin-built Milstar constellation currently on-orbit by providing vastly improved global, survivable, highly secure, protected communications for war fighters operating on ground, sea and air platforms.
With successful satellite separation from the launch vehicle approximately 51 minutes after liftoff, AEHF-2 will undergo approximately 110 days of orbit-raising operations followed by approximately 120 days of on-orbit testing. After these critical events, AEHF-2 will be ready to transfer to the 14th Air Force for Satellite Control Authority.
AEHF is a joint service satellite communications system that will provide survivable, global, secure, protected, and jam-resistant communications for high-priority military ground, sea and air assets. The AEHF system is the follow-on to the Milstar system, augmenting, improving and expanding the Department of Defense’s MILSATCOM architecture.
AEHF will also serve international partners including Canada, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom.
A single AEHF satellite provides greater total capacity than the entire five-satellite Milstar constellation. Individual user data rates will be increased five-fold, permitting transmission of tactical military communications, such as real-time video, battlefield maps and targeting data. In addition to its tactical mission, AEHF also provides the critical survivable, protected, and endurable communications links to national leaders including presidential conferencing in all levels of conflict.
“AEHF is integral to our national security space architecture, providing significantly improved protected communications capabilities for both tactical and strategic users,” said Kevin Bilger, Lockheed Martin’s vice president and general manager of Global Communications Systems. “Our team is focused on performing a timely and efficient satellite checkout to deliver mission success for our customer.”
The AEHF team includes the U.S. Air Force Military Satellite Communications Systems Directorate at the Space and Missile Systems Center, Los Angeles Air Force Base, Calif. Lockheed Martin Space Systems Company, Sunnyvale, Calif., is the AEHF prime contractor, space and ground segments provider as well as system integrator, with Northrop Grumman Aerospace Systems, Redondo Beach, Calif., as the payload provider.