Northrop delivers comms payload for Air Force's enhanced polar system

Northrop Grumman has delivered the first of two protected communications payloads for the Air Force's Enhanced Polar System (EPS) that will furnish continuous coverage in the north polar region for secure, jam-resistant strategic and tactical military communications, the company said Feb. 25.

The EHF payload leverages protected communications technologies the company developed for the Air Force's Advanced EHF (AEHF) satellite payloads on a smaller scale to meet reduced mission requirements for EPS, Northrop Grumman said. The first payload will become part of an overall EPS network planned to replace the Interim Polar System on orbit and serve as a polar adjunct to AEHF.

Both EPS payloads feature onboard processing units similar to those on AEHF satellites, but are modified to meet reduced mission requirements, Northrop Grumman said.

The payloads integrate functions of the configurable on board router, demodulator and resource control computer/security equipment computer on AEHF payloads into a single eXtended data rate processing unit on EPS, for example. For the same reason, certain components essential for AEHF payloads, such as crosslinks, nulling antennas and phased array antennas, are not included on EPS payloads.

The Air Force plans initial operational capability for EPS for 2018. EPS is composed of two EHF payloads hosted on classified satellites, a gateway to connect modified Navy Multiband Terminals to other communication systems, and a control and planning segment.

The MILSATCOM directorate at the Air Force's Space and Missile Systems Center at Los Angeles Air Force Base, Calif., is acquiring the mission control and gateway segments.

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