Protected Globally: AEHF-6 Satellite Actively Communicating
The first national security launch for the U.S. Space Force and the final satellite to build out the protected communications constellation is now connected.
The sixth Lockheed Martin-built Advanced Extremely High Frequency (AEHF-6) satellite launched from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida on March 26. AEHF-6 successfully separated from its United Launch Alliance Atlas V 551 rocket approximately five hours and 45 minutes after launch and is now responding to commands from ground control.
Now a critical element of U.S. national security, military satellite communications delivers vital connectivity to armed forces around the globe, making warfighters safer and more effective.
The Advanced Extremely High Frequency (AEHF) system provides vastly improved global, survivable, protected communications capabilities for strategic command and tactical warfighters operating on ground, sea and air platforms. The jam-resistant system also serves international partners including Canada, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom.
AEHF is a case study in cost-reduction. Through a continuing focus on affordability via fixed pricing, streamlined engineering teams, improved manufacturing and economies of scale, we lowered satellite cost by more than 35 percent in AEHF’s most recent block buy. In 2014, the Department of Defense honored the U.S. Air Force AEHF Program with the David Packard Excellence in Acquisition Award for saving $1.6 billion from initial government estimates.
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 assures the critical protected communications links for national leaders, such as the President and Joint Chiefs of Staff, in all levels of conflict.
Lockheed Martin is currently under contract to deliver six AEHF satellites and the Mission Control Segment. The program has begun production of the fifth and sixth AEHF satellites, and initial operational capability of the system was July 28, 2015.
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.