The US Air Force (USAF) has successfully shipped the third advanced extremely high frequency (AEHF) communication satellite to Cape Canaveral Air Force Station (CCAFS) in Florida, US.
Delivered in collaboration with AEHF prime contractor Lockheed Martin aboard a C-5 Galaxy aircraft, the satellite will now undergo final launch preparations, including encapsulation in the rocket’s payload fairing, and transport to CCAFS’s Launch Complex 41 for integration with the launch vehicle in the next several months.
The satellite is scheduled to be launched aboard a United Launch Alliance Atlas V launch vehicle in September 2013.
A follow-on to USAF’s Milstar system, AEHF is the next generation of protected military satellite communications system designed to provide enhanced global, survivable, protected communications for the US warfighters and its allied militaries, including the UK, Canada and Netherlands.
Capable of operating at 44GHz uplink and 20GHz downlink, the satellites can transmit communications to and from users using an array of narrow spot beams directed towards the Earth, and feature phased array antennas that can block out potential jamming sources.
Besides a contract for production and delivery of four AEHF satellites along with mission control segment, Lockheed also secured a $1.9bn contract for the development and delivery of the fifth and sixth AEHF satellites in January this year.
The initial two AEHF satellites were successfully launched from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida, US, in August 2010 and May 2012 respectively.
Led by Lockheed, the AEHF team includes the US Air Force Military Satellite Communications Systems Directorate, which is a part of the USAFs Space and Missile Systems Center, and Northrop Grumman Aerospace Systems as satellites’ communications payloads provider.
Image: An impression of USAF’s advanced extremely high frequency satellite system in orbit. Photo: courtesy of Los Angeles Air Force Base.