Northrop Grumman has received a contract for the US Space Force’s (USSF) Evolved Strategic SATCOM (ESS) programme.

The ESS programme aims to develop the next generation of protected communication satellites.

It is a follow-on to the Advanced Extremely High Frequency (AEHF) satellite programme and will eventually replace the existing AEHF system.

Under the rapid prototyping phase, the company will provide the preliminary design for modern strategic communications space segment of ESS and a ground-based demonstration.

Northrop Grumman communications systems vice-president Cyrus Dhalla said: “Northrop Grumman looks forward to building on more than 40 years of successfully delivering protected satellite communications solutions to our customers.

“ESS is critical to extending our nation’s secure satellite communications infrastructure, as it will provide strategic users with assured, uninterruptable connectivity without fear of discovery anywhere on the globe.”

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The ESS programme replaces the mid-latitude system capability of AEHF and extends the survivable communications functions to the North Polar Region.

As a prime contractor for the programme, Northrop Grumman will use its experience and expertise in delivering Milstar, AEHF, Enhanced Polar System (EPS) and Enhanced Polar System Recapitalization (EPS-R) and other MILSATCOM payloads.

Last month, Northrop Grumman and USSF concluded a delta Critical Design Review (dCDR) for the EPS-R Control and Planning Segment (CAPS) programme.