The U.S. Air Force and Lockheed Martin have integrated the system module for the fourth Advanced Extremely High Frequency satellite six months ahead of schedule.
The milestone marks the completion of the first major phase in the satellite’s assembly, integration and test and is a key indicator that Lockheed Martin and the Air Force are successfully streamlining processes to achieve affordability goals.
AEHF, the next generation of protected military satellite communications satellites, 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 AEHF-4 system module includes the satellite’s payload structure module and electronic components that are critical to controlling its communications payload and ensuring the satellite’s health and safety throughout its on orbit mission life. The AEHF payload provider, Northrop Grumman, will now integrate the satellite’s advanced communications payload with its system module. The fully integrated system module will then be returned to Lockheed Martin’s Sunnyvale, Calif., facility for final satellite integration and test.
“The ahead of schedule completion of the system module for our fourth AEHF satellite is a true testament to the Air Force and Lockheed Martin team,” said Col Rod Miller, the U.S. Air Force’s AEHF program manager. “We look forward to integrating the advanced communications payload and ultimately delivering this satellite in support of strategic and tactical protected communications users worldwide.”
Lockheed Martin is currently under contract to deliver four AEHF satellites and the Mission Control Segment. The program has begun advanced procurement of long-lead components for the fifth and sixth AEHF satellites. AEHF-1 and AEHF-2 have both launched and are on orbit. Lockheed Martin has completed work on AEHF-3 and is now preparing the satellite for a September 2013 launch date.
“Leveraging our experience on the first three AEHF satellites, we are executing a highly efficient and affordable assembly and integration of AEHF-4,” said Mark Calassa, vice president of Lockheed Martin’s Protected Communications mission area. “In the current budget environment, we are laser focused on streamlining our processes and deploying affordability initiatives to reduce the cost of each AEHF asset now vital to our national security,”
A single AEHF satellite provides greater total capacity than the entire legacy 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.
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.