The fourth Lockheed Martin built Advanced Extremely High Frequency (AEHF) protected communications satellite is one step closer to space. The AEHF-4 satellite was encapsulated into its payload fairing on September 26 in anticipation of its October 17 launch from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida, on a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket.
"This fourth satellite will complete a worldwide ring of AEHF satellites to deliver global extended data rate (XDR) coverage for the U.S. Air Force and for the partner nations – Canada, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom – that also connect to the AEHF network," said Mike Cacheiro, Lockheed Martin vice president of protected 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."
AEHF communications are jam-proof and offer low probability of detection or interception, and the four AEHF satellite constellation will be able to deliver that capability worldwide. The satellite enables military communications with real-time video, battlefield maps and targeting data, boosted by a five-fold increase in individual user data rates.
The AEHF system provides vastly improved global, survivable, highly secure, protected communications for strategic command and tactical warfighters operating on ground, sea and air platforms. A single AEHF satellite provides greater total capacity than the entire legacy five-satellite Milstar constellation.
Lockheed Martin manufactured the AEHF-4 satellite at its Sunnyvale, California facility. The satellite was delivered to Florida on July 27, 2018.
The AEHF team is led by the MILSATCOM Systems Directorate at the U.S. Air Force Space and Missile Systems Center. Lockheed Martin is the primary contractor, Northrop Grumman is the payload manufacturer. Air Force Space Command operates the AEHF system.