AEHF Satellite System

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Product Type:

Communications Satellite System

Using Service (US):

Air Force (USAF)

Program Status:

In Production
(Three of six satellites have been launched)

Prime Contractors:

Lockheed Martin Corporation

AEHF Satellite

About the AEHF Program:

The Advanced Extremely High Frequency (AEHF) satellites system is the next generation global, secure, survivable communication system for all services of the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD). The AEHF satellite system will be a constellation of communications satellites in geosynchronous orbit that will replenish the existing MILSTAR satellite system at a much higher capacity and data rate capability. One AEHF satellite will provide greater total capacity than the entire MILSTAR constellation currently on orbit. The MILSTAR satellite program currently has a four-satellite operational constellation. The last MILSTAR satellite was launched in April 2003.

AEHF adds new higher data rate modes to the low data rate and medium data rate modes of MILSTAR satellites. The higher data rate modes will provide data rates up to 8.2 million bits of data per second (Mbps) to future Advanced EHF Army terminals. AEHF satellites will provide 10 times greater total capacity and offer channel data rates 6 times higher than the MILSTAR communications satellites. The higher data rates enables transmission of tactical military communications such as real-time video, battlefield maps, and targeting data.

 - 24-hour low, medium, and high data rate satellite connectivity from 65 N    to 65 S latitude worldwide
 - 8 full time spot beam antennas @ 75 bps to 8.192 Mbps data rate
 - 24 time shared spot beam antennas @ 75 bps to 2.048 Mbps data rate
 - 2 crosslink antennas per satellite (10 Mbps)
 - Up to 160 cellular coverages (75 bps to 8.192 Mbps)
 - X-band frequency data rate capable

The fully operational AEHF constellation will consist of four crosslinked satellites providing coverage of the Earth from 65 degrees north latitude to 65 degrees south. The satellites will provide more data throughput and coverage flexibility to military operations than ever before.

In November 2001, the U.S. Air Force awarded Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grumman a $2.7 billion contract to begin the System Development and Demonstration (SDD) phase of the AEHF Program. Lockheed Martin serves as the developer of the ground segment, satellite bus provider, space vehicle integrator and overall systems integrator and prime contractor. This role builds on Lockheed Martin's experience on MILSTAR and DSCS. Northrop Grumman will provide the payload and associated components, including digital processor and RF equipment.

On December 28, 2012, the U.S. Air Force awarded Lockheed Martin a $1.94 billion contract to deliver the fifth and sixth AEHF satellites (SV-5 and SV-6).

The AEHF is a collaborative program that also includes resources for Canada, the United Kingdom, and the Netherlands. All four partner nations are now using the AEHF.

The first AEHF satellite was launched on August 14, 2010 (four years behind schedule) aboard a United Launch Alliance Atlas V EELV launch vehicle. AEHF SV-1 reached geosynchronous orbit on October 24, 2011 and completed on-orbit testing on February 29, 2012. On February 27, 2012, Lockheed Martin delivered the second AEHF satellite to Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida, where it was launched on May 4, 2012 and activated on August 17, 2012. On-orbit testing of AEHF SV-2 was completed on November 14, 2012. The third AEHF satellite (SV-3) was delivered in July 2013 and launched on September 18, 2013. Initial Operational Capability (IOC) was declared for the AEHF on July 28, 2015. Advanced Extremely High Frequency system on July 28. AEHF SV-4, SV-5, and SV-6 are projected to launch in 2017, 2018, and 2019, respectively.

AEHF Production Forecast:

A 15-year AEHF production forecast is available through Forecast International's Platinum Forecast System, which includes a breakout of total market unit and value statistics by manufacturer and end-user. This real-time service also includes information on all prime and subcontractors, contract awards, no. of active satellites/systems, a complete program history, and a rationale detailing the outlook of the program. A 10-year AEHF production forecast is also available in report format through Forecast International's Space Systems Forecast service.


The AEHF constellation will provide survivable, anti-jam, worldwide secure communications for strategic and tactical users.

FY 2020 & FY 2021 - AEHF DoD Program:

This data is available in Forecast International's U.S. Defense Budget Forecast, a comprehensive analytical database containing historical and forecast budget figures, year-to-year funding comparisons, congressional budget markups, program justification documents, and much more.

Source: U.S. Department of Defense (DoD), Lockheed Martin Corp.,
and Northrop Grumman Corp.

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DoD Spending in FY 2014, FY 2015, FY 2016, FY 2017 and FY 2018 + 5-year forecast

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