Two high-speed downlink antennae have been integrated into the fourth Advanced Extremely High Frequency (AEHF) satellite.
The Super High Frequency Array Unit (SAU) is the fastest of its kind to operate in space, according to Northrop Grumman. Northrop Grumman built the SAU, while Lockheed Martin integrated it into the satellite.
"These high-speed downlink phased array antennas, the first to operate at 20 GHz in space, provide assured point-to-point connectivity using electronically steerable beams that reach military users at fixed-site and mobile terminals," said a Northrop Grumman news release.
The downlink antennas were developed specifically for AEHF satellites, which also use high-speed uplink phased array antennas that are the first to operate at 40 GHz in space. Phased arrays electronically control radio beams rather than relying on mechanical reflectors.
"This allows one array to do the job of many reflectors, giving the flexibility to point-on-demand in fractions of a second to hundreds of coverage areas, greatly improving access and automatically countering signal jamming by adversaries," said Stuart Linsky, vice president of communication programs at Northrop Grumman Aerospace Systems.
The high-speed phased arrays form multiple beams concurrently, allowing high-gain earth coverage anywhere in the satellite's field of view, super high-gain earth coverage to up to 160 locations, and up to 24 medium-resolution coverage area spot beams.