The third Advanced Extremely High Frequency military communication satellite, built by a Lockheed Martin team for the U.S. Air Force, was successfully launched at 4:10 a.m., Sept. 18, from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station aboard a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket. Lockheed Martin confirmed signal acquisition at 51 minutes after launch.
The AEHF system provides vastly improved global, survivable, highly secure, protected communications for strategic command and tactical warfighters operating on ground, sea and air platforms. The system also serves international partners including Canada, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom.
“The successful launch of the third AEHF satellite is a significant accomplishment for the nation’s protected communications mission,” said Mark Calassa, vice president of Protected Communication Systems at Lockheed Martin. “AEHF is functioning well in tests, and allies are connecting to the system for the first time. It shows that our product is meeting mission needs, and we have room to expand capacity for both tactical and strategic users in the future.”
AEHF takes advantage of several Lockheed Martin capabilities to deliver six satellites and a mission control segment. Lockheed Martin contributed payload system engineering, mission control ground software, solar arrays and the A2100 spacecraft bus, which is a dependable and low-risk platform for commercial, civil and military satellites. Both AEHF-1 and AEHF-2 are on orbit, and AEHF-4 through -6 are progressing on schedule. All satellites are assembled at the company’s Sunnyvale, Calif., facility.
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.