The third Advanced Extremely High Frequency satellite built by Lockheed Martin has been encapsulated into its payload fairing in preparation for a Sept. 18 liftoff aboard an Atlas V rocket from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla.
The AEHF system is the nation’s only protected strategic and tactical satellite communications program. It works in concert with its predecessor, Milstar, for global coverage. Lockheed Martin is under contract to deliver six AEHF satellites and the Mission Control Segment. Both AEHF-1 and AEHF-2 are on orbit, and AEHF-4 is progressing on schedule.
“The AEHF team has done excellent work to increase capability and affordability,” said Mark Calassa, vice president for Protected Communication Systems at Lockheed Martin. “Our efforts were rewarded in December with a new Air Force contract for space vehicles 5 and 6. As we transition to fixed price, we are reducing risk to the customer and lowering satellite cost by over 30 percent with this recent block buy.”
AEHF 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. Canada was the first of these nations to connect to AEHF during tests with multiple terminals.
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.