AEHF satellite

The US Air Force (USAF) has taken delivery of the second of two extremely high frequency (EHF) payloads under contract from Northrop Grumman for use on Enhanced Polar System (EPS).

Utilising hardware and software designs originally developed by the company for Advanced EHF (AEHF) protected military communication satellites, the payload is designed to offer EHF protected communication capabilities to forces operating in the North Polar Region.

Northrop Grumman Aerospace Systems Communication Programs vice president Stuart Linsky said the new payload, like the first, used flight-proven components to reduce development risk, cost and schedule of the highly advanced anti-jam payloads.

"As a result, we kept nonrecurring engineering costs and other expenses associated with first article satellites to an absolute minimum," Linsky added.

"Reuse of existing hardware and software resulted in a highly successful EPS payload development, providing a significant value for Americans."

Northrop Grumman Communication Systems vice president Tim Frei said: "EPS proves that we can transition Technology Readiness Level 9, anti-jam, low probability of intercept communications into new platforms at low cost and risk, providing real protected SatCom at no more cost than unprotected SatCom."

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He added: ”This is part of Northrop Grumman’s broad affordability initiative, which seeks to combine the best commercial technologies with TRL 9-level government technologies."

In development since 2008, the payload integrates AEHF’s payloads functions, such as the configurable onboard router, demodulator and resource control computer / security equipment computer, into a single eXtended data rate processing unit on EPS.

Designed to replace the existing Interim Polar System, EPS will provide soldiers with secure teletype, voice, email, instant messaging, video, multimedia and data communication capabilities, besides facilitating jam-resistant, strategic and tactical communications between forces operating above 65° north latitude.

Featuring two EHF payloads hosted on classified satellites, a gateway to network modified navy multiband terminals to other communication systems, and a control and planning segment, the system is expected to achieve initial operational capability (IOC) in 2018.

Image: An impression of USAF’s Advanced Extremely High Frequency satellite in orbit. Photo: file image.

Defence Technology