Lockheed Martin Space Systems in Sunnyvale, Calif., recently shipped the fourth of six Advanced Extremely High Frequency (AEHF) military communications satellite to Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. The U.S. Dept. of Defense is preparing to launch it into space in October aboard an Atlas V rocket.
The AEHF satellites are operated by the U.S. Air Force Space Command to relay secure communications for all U.S. military branches, as well as British, Canadian, and Dutch armed forces. The system will have six satellites in geostationary orbit, operating at 44 GHz Uplink and 20 GHz Downlink; uplinks and crosslinks will operate in the extremely high frequency (EHF) range, and downlinks in the super high frequency (SHF) range.
Three AEHF satellites are in orbit now, and the fifth and sixth units are on schedule. All the satellites are assembled at Lockheed Martin Space Systems in Sunnyvale.
AEHF will replace the older Milstar system. According to Lockheed, a single AEHF satellite provides greater total capacity than the entire five-satellite Milstar constellation. It will provide global, secure communications for high-priority military ground, sea, and air assets, including real-time video, battlefield maps, and targeting data, with a 5X increase in individual user data rates.
Also noted by Lockheed, AEHF communications are "jam-proof and offer low probability of detection or interception, and the four-satellite constellation will be able to deliver that capability worldwide."
“Four AEHF satellites in orbit means protected global connectivity for those who need it most, from the president to deployed soldiers,” explained Michael Cacheiro, Lockheed Martin vice president of Protected Communications. “Delivering this fourth satellite in orbit will be critical to the Air Force, as it will connect all four satellites on orbit, forming a geostationary ring to provide uninterrupted global communications.”