CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. – Oct. 17, 2018 – The fourth Lockheed Martin-built Advanced Extremely High Frequency (AEHF) protected military communications satellite was successfully launched today aboard a United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas V rocket. In support of AEHF prime contractor Lockheed Martin and the Air Force Space and Missile Systems Center, Northrop Grumman Corporation (NYSE: NOC) provides the communication payloads for all of the AEHF satellites. In addition, Northrop Grumman provided critical components for the Atlas V rocket, continuing the company’s role in every Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle (EELV) launch since the program began almost thirty years ago.
“AEHF is a critical program for our nation, and Northrop Grumman is proud to be a member of the industry team partnering with Lockheed Martin and Air Force Space and Missile Systems to deliver this mission-enabling capability,” said Cyrus Dhalla, vice president, communications systems, Northrop Grumman Aerospace Systems. “Threats to our country’s secured communications are constantly evolving, and we must continuously adapt our technology to address them.”
These Advanced EHF payloads contain the processing, routing and control hardware and software that perform the satellite’s core communications mission. Northrop Grumman delivered the flight four payload in 2014, more than four months early. The company also delivered payload modules for the first, second and third AEHF satellites ahead of schedule in 2007, 2008 and 2009 respectively.
Northrop Grumman sites in California and Maryland also provided bus structures, heat pipes and solar array hinges for the satellite. Propellant and pressurant tanks for the spacecraft were provided by the company’s Commerce, California facility.
With initial operating capability achieved in July 2015, the AEHF system provides vastly improved global, survivable, protected communications capabilities for national command, and strategic and tactical warfighters across ground, sea and air missions. The jam-resistant system also serves international partners including Canada, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom. The system delivers the flexible connectivity-on-demand needed to achieve swift, decisive outcomes required by today’s warfighters.
One AEHF satellite provides greater total capacity than the entire five-satellite legacy Milstar constellation with individual user data rates up to five times greater than on the Milstar system. The higher data rates permit two-way, jam-resistant transmission of tactical military communication such as real-time video, battlefield maps and targeting data.
“It was great to see another successful ULA Atlas V launch that flew Northrop Grumman-produced structures and components for the launch vehicle,” said Wendy Williams, vice president, aerospace structures, Northrop Grumman Innovation Systems. “This is a really good example of the breadth of our product line and capabilities and the critical role we play in the Air Force’s EELV launch program.”
The Northrop Grumman rocket components utilize the latest, cutting-edge technology across multiple company facilities. Using advanced fiber placement manufacturing and automated inspection techniques, Northrop Grumman produced three components for the ULA Atlas V vehicle, including the 10-foot diameter composite heat shield that provides essential protection to the first stage engine, the Centaur Interstage Adapter that houses the second stage engine, and the boattail that adapts the core vehicle to the five-meter diameter fairing. Northrop Grumman fabricated these structures at its Iuka, Mississippi facility.
The company also manufactured the Reaction Control System propellant tanks for the Atlas V rocket at its Commerce, California facility. In addition, eight solid motors supported the separation of the rocket’s spent first stage. The company built the retrorockets at its facility in Elkton, Maryland.
Northrop Grumman is a leading global security company providing innovative systems, products and solutions in autonomous systems, cyber, C4ISR, space, strike, and logistics and modernization to customers worldwide. Please visit news.northropgrumman.com and follow us on Twitter, @NGCNews, for more information.