SUNNYVALE, Calif., Nov. 15 (UPI) -- The second Advanced Extremely High Frequency U.S. military communications satellite by Lockheed Martin is ready for operational service.
The satellite, which provides enhanced global, survivable, highly secure, protected communications for strategic command and tactical warfighters, was turned over to the 14th Air Force at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California following successful on-orbit testing by Lockheed, Northrop Grumman and the service.
"Completion of on-orbit testing and handover of AEHF-2 is a critical milestone for the Air Force and our nation," said Dave Madden, director of the Military Satellite Communications Systems Directorate at the U.S. Air Force's Space and Missile Systems Center.
"The AEHF satellites on orbit and those planned for launch will play a pivotal role in our national security for years to come."
The AEHF satellites provides greater total capacity than the entire legacy five-satellite Milstar constellation, increasing individual user data rates for real-time video, battlefield maps and targeting data five-fold.
The satellites also provide survivable, protected and endurable communications links to national leaders.
Lockheed Martin is under contract to deliver four AEHF satellites and the Mission Control Segment for the system, and the program has already begun advanced procurement of long-lead components for the fifth and sixth AEHF satellites.
"The U.S. Air Force, Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grumman AEHF team performed a thorough and efficient on orbit test campaign for this critical satellite, and AEHF-2 is performing exceptionally well," said Mark Calassa, Lockheed Martin's vice president and AEHF program manager.
"With the first two AEHF satellites now on orbit, the Department of Defense is well on its way to augmenting, improving and expanding its critical military satellite communications architecture to meet increasing demand from users worldwide."
Lockheed said that work on AEHF-3 has been completed and that the satellite will be launched in September of next year.
Northrop Grumman provides the satellite payload.