Protected communications low cost terminal completes development milestone

The Low Cost Terminal (LCT), designed to offer truly affordable and mobile access to the Advanced Extremely High Frequency (AEHF) protected communications system, was successfully integrated and tested with the engineering model AEHF payload, which functions identically to the satellites on orbit, Bethesda, MD-based Lockheed Martin announced February 9.

This milestone verifies the hardware and software design and demonstrates the ability of the LCT to communicate the AEHF waveform, as well as its readiness for over-the-air-testing with an on-orbit satellite. The terminal development team includes Northrop Grumman Corporation, Lockheed Martin and Comtech Telecommunications Corp.

An industry-funded initiative, LCT is being developed to fill the current need for affordable terminals that provide tactical users with mobile and protected access to the AEHF system. The integration and test program was conducted at Northrop Grumman’s Redondo Beach facility using the engineering model AEHF payload. The test program established the ability of the LCT to connect and establish a secure communications channel, and pass data with the AEHF system.

“This key accomplishment demonstrates that a protected connectivity can be affordably extended to tactical users in the near term,” said Cyrus Dhalla, vice president, communication systems, Northrop Grumman Aerospace Systems. “AEHF is an available on-orbit system that can satisfy the warfighting need for assured tactical communications in contested and anti-access/area denial environments.”

“AEHF is the nation’s and our allies’ protected satellite communications system, providing national leaders and commanders with an assured communications link worldwide,” said Iris Bombelyn, vice president, protected communications, Lockheed Martin Space Systems. “With the successful test of the Low Cost Terminal, we are one step closer to demonstrating a capability to expand the number of users who can benefit from this critical resource—the ability to receive and transmit timely, critical information in contested, congested and hostile environments.”

The LCT is currently being developed in three variants: airborne, ground comm-on-the-move and rapidly deployable fixed terminal designs. Each variant is smaller in size and weight than current generation terminals, making them a better fit for tactical applications, while offering significant cost savings over current terminals.

The LCT program will continue testing over the next few months, including a demonstration with an AEHF satellite on orbit. LCTs are projected to be available in 2018, provided testing and proper certifications are completed.

Source: Lockheed Martin