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An Atlas V thunders the AEHF-1 satellite aloft. Photo Credit: Alan WaltersCAPE CANAVERAL – The launch of an Atlas V rocket carrying its AEHF-1 satellite payload created a long shadow across the Florida morning sky is part of somewhat hasty effort to enlarge the military's communications satellite capabilities. This includes the addition of three satellites to the fleet in recent years after several failures elsewhere in the U.S. milspace arena.These next-generation satellites are designed to guarantee high-speed communications for military commanders, such as between the president and national security leadership, as well as combatant commands. In particular, the Lockheed Martin satellites are designed to be resistant to jamming, including by a nuclear attack.When the system is completed it will be comprised of three functioning satellites and a spare AEHF satellite. These inter-connected satellites are designed to communicate with one another. They will provide military forces with important communications-related information such as maps, video and targeting data. When operational, this fleet of satellites will be managed by the 4th Space Operations Squadron, stationed at Schriever Air Force Base, Colo.As congressional auditors told lawmakers in March, the additional satellites have been added to the program in recent years because of concerns about delays in, and the subsequent recommended termination of, the Transformational Satellite (TSAT) program. Satellites 4-6 will cost significantly more than the third satellite because of parts obsolescence issues and a four-year break in production – indeed, as Irene Klotz mentioned, AEHF is now looking at a total price tag of $12.5 billion.
ar99, ULA, AEHF, AtlasV, os99
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