The USAF Space and Missile Systems Center has awarded a contract to United Launch Alliance to perform the launch services for the advanced extremely high-frequency-3 (AEHF-3) satellite.

The AEHF-3 satellite is scheduled to launch aboard an Atlas V launch vehicle in the summer of 2012, from the Space Launch Complex-41, Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida.

The third instalment of the AEHF system will provide ten times higher capacity and five times higher channel data rates compared to the existing Milstar II communications satellites.

Higher data rates will permit transmission of tactical military communications such as real-time video, battlefield maps and targeting data.

The AEHF-3 satellite will be launched using three Aerojet solid rocket motors, a Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne RL10A upper stage engine, a 5m-diameter upper stage and a composite payload fairing.