Lockheed Martin has completed on-orbit test of the US Air Force’s (USAF) advanced extremely high frequency AEHF-4 spacecraft.
Launched in October, AEHF-4 comprises payload built by subcontractor Northrop Grumman. The satellite will provide a new capability of global extended data rate (XDR) communications to support military users across the world.
The AEHF-4 on-orbit test (A4 OOT) activated the payload. According to Lockheed, the spacecraft met all of its requirements during the test.
A4 OOT marks the first ever test to have all six AEHF operational terminals communicating over XDR.
Lockheed Martin military space protected communications vice-president Mike Cacheiro said: “This is a major milestone to celebrate with our customers at Space and Missiles Systems Center (SMC) the US Air Force and our teammates Northrop Grumman, L3 Communications and Aerojet.
“As we turn our focus on launching AEHF-5 in June, one month early, I want to congratulate everyone involved in completing this one of a kind, high-performance network in space. This is a tremendous accomplishment for the AEHF programme and I am proud of the team for consistently exceeding the customer’s mission needs.”
The completion of the test represents the last step prior to the handover of the satellite’s control authority to the USAF SMC. It will join the combined AEHF-Milstar constellation.
XDR communications enable the transmission of data to its users at rates five times higher than medium data rate (MDR) and 350 times higher than low data rate (LDR) communications.
The MDR and LDR communication modes are available on Milstar, AEHF’s predecessor, to directly support troops.
The AEHF constellation is intended to deliver global, secure and protected communications for strategic command and tactical troops operating on ground, sea and air platforms.
In addition to the US, the jam-resistant communications system serves international partners such as Canada, the Netherlands and the UK.