The U.S. Air Force has been allowing select groups to use AEHF for testing as it fields the system, but this expansion means more users beyond the U.S. could soon have more frequent access.
A U.S.-Canada team successfully communicated with the AEHF-1 satellite using a variant of the SMART-T terminal from a location near Ottawa, Canada. Users were able to exchange data with the U.S. Air Force’s 4th Space Operations Squadron located at Schriever Air Force Base, Colo. In later exercises, the U.S. supported Canadian forces as they tested multiple Navy Multi-Band IP variant terminals to exchange data over AEHF networks.
“AEHF’s protected communication capabilities are operational and have wide appeal,” said Mark Calassa, vice president of Protected Communications at Lockheed Martin. “This event was an integrated effort that spanned countries, armed services and product lines. It shows our employees are delivering a complex system that works well, enhances capability and improves allied missions.”
Canada will continue testing for several months as it moves toward initial operational capability. The Netherlands and United Kingdom are the other AEHF international partners, and each nation is scheduled to complete their first terminal connections by the end of the year.
The AEHF system provides vastly improved global, survivable, highly secure, protected communications capabilities for strategic command and tactical warfighters operating on ground, sea and air platforms.
A single AEHF satellite provides greater total capacity than the entire legacy five-satellite Milstar constellation. Individual user data rates will increase 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 provides the critical survivable, protected and endurable communications links to national leaders, including presidential conferencing in all levels of conflict.
Lockheed Martin is under contract to deliver six AEHF satellites and the Mission Control Segment. Both AEHF-1 and AEHF-2 are on orbit, AEHF-3 is slated for a September 2013 launch and AEHF-4 is progressing on schedule. All satellites are assembled at the company’s Sunnyvale, Calif., facility.