Northrop Grumman technicians in Redondo Beach, California, thread wiring and cabling through the fourth protected communications payload for the U.S. Air Force's Advanced Extremely High Frequency satellite system. (photo courtesy of Northrop Grumman)
An electronics unit that positions a suite of antennas for the US Air Force Advanced Extremely High Frequency (AEHF) satellite has been delivered as part of a communications payload. The AEHF satellite provides improved global, survivable, highly secure, and protected communications for strategic command and tactical warfighters. Delivered by Northrop Grumman, this payload is the fourth in a series supplied to Lockheed Martin Space Systems.
The payload’s gimbal control unit (GCU) contains 10 mechanically steered antennas as part of a subsystem that processes gimbal-pointing commands for precision pointing. It also operates two crosslink antennas, two nulling antennas, and six gimbaled dish antennas. The payload provides and controls all extremely-high-frequency (EHF) uplink, super-high-frequency (SHF) downlink and crosslink functions, beamforming, on-board nulling, signal processing, and time and frequency control for low-, medium-, and extended-data-rate operation.
The system, which is designed to provide higher-reliability and higher-data-rate broadband communications in remote regions, provides extreme-data-rate (XDR) services to 8.192 Mb/s per user. It provides Milstar low-data-rate (LDR) services at 75 to 2400 b/s and Milstar medium-data-rate (MDR) services at 4.8 kb/s to 1.544 Mb/s. The payload will begin to be integrated immediately, consistent with the on-schedule performance of the satellite.