Assembly Milestone for AEHF-4

Lockheed Martin completed integration of the system module for the Air Force’s fourth Advanced Extremely High Frequency military communications satellite, announced the company. This is the first major step in the satellite’s assembly, according to the company’s Dec. 17 release, which notes that the company completed the integration six months ahead of schedule. “Leveraging our experience on the first three AEHF satellites, we are executing a highly efficient and affordable assembly and integration of AEHF-4,” said Mark Calassa, the company’s vice president for protected communications. The system module includes the satellite’s payload structure module and electronic components that will control the communications payload and ensure the satellite’s health and safety. Payload provider Northrop Grumman will now install the satellite’s communications payload before returning the spacecraft to Lockheed Martin for final testing and assembly, states the release. The first two AEHF satellites are already on orbit and Lockheed Martin has finished building the third satellite, which is slated for placement in orbit in September 2013. The company has already begun purchasing materials to build the fifth and sixth vehicles. AEHF satellites complement, and will eventually replace, legacy Milstar communications spacecraft.