The Australian Defence Force is set to benefit from Lockheed Martin’s sixth Advanced Extremely High Frequency (AEHF-6) protected communications satellite which has successfully completed its on-orbit test (OOT) period.
AEHF-6 will be part of a geostationary ring of 10 satellites in the AEHF-MILSTAR constellation delivering global coverage for survivable, highly secure and protected communications for strategic command and tactical warfighters operating on ground, sea and air platforms.
The satellite adds increased resiliency and advanced capabilities to this constellation, which ensures the ability to transmit data anywhere, anytime.
Erik Daehler, director of Lockheed Martin’s protected communications mission area, explained, "Successful OOT demonstrates that all space vehicle performance requirements have been met and that we are on track for satellite control authority handover to Space Operations Command before the end of the year."
Besides US forces, the AEHF system also serves international partners Australia, Canada, the Netherlands and the UK.
AEHF-6 was successfully launched about five months ago, on 26 March, from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida, aboard a United Launch Alliance Atlas V 551 rocket. The launch was the first mission launch for the US Space Force.
"This is a great accomplishment for the industry-government team, bringing incredible capability for our warfighters," Daehler added.
As prime contractor, Lockheed Martin Space developed and manufactured all six AEHF satellites at its production facility located in Sunnyvale, California.
The AEHF team is led by the Production Corps, Geosynchronous Earth Orbit/Polar Division, at the US Space Force’s Space and Missile Systems Centre, located at Los Angeles Air Force Base.
The AEHF system provides vastly improved global, survivable, protected communications capabilities for strategic command and tactical warfighters operating on ground, sea and air platforms.
In 2014, the Department of Defense honoured the US Air Force AEHF Program with the David Packard Excellence in Acquisition Award for saving $1.6 billion from initial government estimates.
A single AEHF satellite provides greater total capacity than the entire legacy five-satellite Milstar constellation. Individual user data rates will be increased five-fold, permitting transmission of tactical military communications, such as real-time video, battlefield maps and targeting data.
In addition to its tactical mission, AEHF assures the critical protected communications links for national leaders, such as the President and Joint Chiefs of Staff, in all levels of conflict.