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SMi Military PNT 2020  Satellite Communications Technology

AEHF-5 satellite control authority transferred to Space Operations Command

(12 February 2020 - Space and Missile Systems Center) On Feb. 3, the U.S. Space Force Space and Missile Systems Center’s (SMC) fifth Advanced Extremely High Frequency (AEHF-5) communications satellite was successfully transferred to Space Operations Command (SpOC).

After successful completion of AEHF-5 on-orbit testing, SMC transferred Satellite Control Authority to the SpOC with AEHF-5 now under the control of military operators located at Schriever Air Force Base, Colorado. This significant achievement marks the final AEHF-5 milestone and the first transition of a satellite to the warfighter under the United States Space Force.

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Artists impression of Lockheed Martin's AEHF satellite in orbit (courtesy: Lockheed Martin)

“This was very much a team effort from our industry partners and dedicated Government professionals, with their focus on mission success this major milestone was accomplished,” said Col John Dukes, senior materiel leader, Space Production Corps’ Geosynchronous Orbit Division. “AEHF satellites play a critical role for the warfighter and the defense of our nation. Space is fundamental to our way of life, our economy relies on space and this reliance will continue to grow.”

Launched on Aug. 8, 2019, aboard a United Launch Alliance Atlas-V 551 launch vehicle, AEHF-5 continues to ensure the health of the protected satellite communications constellation and its vital national security mission. AEHF is a joint-Service satellite communications system providing survivable, global, secure, protected and jam-resistant communications for high-priority military ground, sea and air assets. AEHF provides 10 times the throughput with a substantial increase in coverage for users, satisfying the ever-growing need to provide higher rates of data to support the warfighter worldwide.

AEHF provides connectivity across the spectrum of mission areas, including land, air and naval warfare; special operations; strategic nuclear operations; strategic defense; theater missile defense, and space operations and intelligence. AEHF also provides protected satellite communications to our International Partners Canada, United Kingdom, Netherlands and Australia. AEHF is the follow-on to the Milstar system, which augments, improves and expands DOD’s Military Satellite Communications architecture.

The sixth and final AEHF-6 satellite is scheduled to launch next month aboard an Atlas V from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida.