First international partner connects over the Air Force’s protected comms satellite system

The U.S. Air Force has been allowing select groups to test communications over the new Advanced Extremely High Frequency (AEHF) satellites, and Canada recently became the first international partner to communicate using the Lockheed Martin-built satellites.

An American/Canadian team successfully communicated with the AEHF-1 satellite using a variant of the SMART-T terminal from a location near Ottawa, Canada, reports Lockheed Martin. Users were able to exchange data with the U.S. Air Force’s 4th Space Operations Squadron located at Schriever Air Force Base, Colo. In later exercises, the U.S. supported Canadian forces as they tested Navy multi-band IP variant terminals to exchange data over AEHF networks.

Canada will continue testing for several months as it moves toward initial operational capability. The Netherlands and United Kingdom are the other AEHF international partners, and each nation is scheduled to complete their first terminal connections by the end of the year.

A single AEHF satellite provides greater total capacity than the legacy five-satellite Milstar constellation. Individual user data rates will increase five-fold, permitting transmission of tactical military communications such as real-time video, battlefield maps and targeting data. In addition to its tactical mission, AEHF provides survivable and protected communications links to national leaders, including presidential conferencing in all levels of conflict.

Lockheed Martin is under contract to deliver six AEHF satellites and the mission-control segment. Both AEHF-1 and AEHF-2 are on orbit, AEHF-3 is slated for a September 2013 launch, and AEHF-4 is progressing on schedule, according to Lockheed Martin.

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