AEHF Satellite

Lockheed Martin has awarded a subcontract to Vanguard Space Technologies for the fabrication and testing of two spacecraft bus structures in support of the US Air Force’s (USAF) Advanced Extremely High Frequency (AEHF) Satellite.

Vanguard chief executive officer, Frank Belknap, said: "Continuous improvement and performance on other complex composite assemblies are helping to establish Vanguard as an industry leader in the fabrication of spacecraft bus structures."

Developed by MILSATCOM Systems, the AEHF satellite has been designed to provide improved global, survivable, highly secure, protected communications for military personnel operating on ground, sea and air platforms.

A single AEHF satellite, when compared to the entire five-satellite Milstar constellation currently in orbit, provides increased total capacity for delivering improved higher-quality real-time video and quicker access to battlefield maps and targeting data.

The AEHF is capable of providing critical survivable, protected and endurable communications not only to the National Command Authority but also supports presidential conferencing in all levels of conflict.

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The satellite payload comprises processors, antennas, radio frequency subsystems and crosslinks to provide extreme data rate (XDR) communications services, medium data rate (MDR) and low data rate (LDR) services.

Lockheed is currently building four AEHF satellites and the mission control segment and has started long-lead components procurement for the construction of fifth and sixth AEHF satellites.

The AEHF team includes the USAF Military Satellite Communications Systems Wing, Lockheed, the AEHF prime contractor, responsible for overall space system manager and the Northrop Grumman will deliver communications payloads for the satellites.

The first satellite, USA-214, was successfully launched by an Atlas V 531 rocket on 14 August 2010 from Space Launch Complex 41 at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida, US.

Image: The US AEHF-2 military communications satellite at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida, US. Photo: courtesy of Lockheed Martin.