Built by Lockheed Martin, AEHF-4 is the fourth in aseries of high-powered military communications created to "provide survivable, global, secure, and jam-resistant communications for high-priority military ground, sea, and air assets", according to a U.S. Air Force description.
United Launch Alliance (ULA) successfully carried the fourth Advanced Extremely High Frequency (AEHF) mission into orbit for the U.S. Air Force on an Atlas V rocket that took off early Tuesday morning from Cape Canaveral. If all goes well, the Centaur will deploy AEHF-4 in its final geostationary orbit about 22,300 miles (35,888 kilometers) above Earth about 3.5 hours after liftoff.
"The mission of AEHF is to provide survivable protected communications for the military's high-priority assets on the ground, at sea and in the air", said Maj.
The first three AEHF satellites were launched in 2010, 2012 and 2013, with the system being declared at initial operational capability in 2015. The satellite reportedly cost about $1.8 billion, according to SpaceNews.
"It's good to return with our mission partners to see the culmination of expertise, skill and partnership that we have worked diligently toward to make this AEHF launch a success", said Mike Cacheiro, vice president of protected communication systems at Lockheed Martin.
"It's also the only system that survives through a near nuclear burst and can provide communications through scintillated environments that other communications systems could not". "Congratulations to the entire launch team on a successful 50th launch for the U.S. Air Force".