The US Air Force’s (USAF) fourth advanced extremely high frequency (AEHF) protected military communications satellite is ready to be launched.

Built by Lockheed Martin, the communications satellite will be launched on 17 October from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida, US, on a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket.

The AEHF-4 satellite was manufactured at the company’s facility in Sunnyvale, California, US, and delivered to Florida on 27 July.

Lockheed Martin Protected Communications vice-president Mike Cacheiro said: “This fourth satellite will complete a worldwide ring of AEHF satellites to deliver global extended data rate (XDR) coverage for the USAF and for the partner nations, Canada, the Netherlands and the UK, that also connect to the AEHF network.

“Real-time video, battlefield maps and targeting data will be provided by the satellite to help support military communications.”

“The Silicon Valley-based team that built this satellite can’t wait to see it lift off. And in the meantime, we’re making great progress on producing the fifth and sixth satellites in the constellation.”

The constellation of four satellites can deliver communications capabilities that are jam-proof and provide low probability of detection or interception.

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The system has been designed to deliver improved global and highly secure protected communications for strategic command and tactical troops operating on the ground, at sea, and on air platforms.

Real-time video, battlefield maps and targeting data will be provided by the satellite to help support military communications.

Lockheed noted that a single AEHF satellite is capable of providing total capacity that is greater than the constellation of the five-satellite Milstar system.

While the MILSATCOM Systems Directorate at the USAF Space and Missile Systems Center is leading the AEHF project, Lockheed Martin serves as the primary contractor and Northrop Grumman as the payload manufacturer.

The US Air Force Space Command is responsible for operating the system.