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EARTH OBSERVATION
Northrop Grumman Delivers First Communications Payload for USAF's Enhanced Polar System
by Staff Writers
Redondo Beach CA (SPX) Feb 26, 2013


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Northrop Grumman has delivered the first of two protected communications payloads for the U.S. Air Force's Enhanced Polar System (EPS) that will provide continuous coverage in the north polar region for secure, jam-resistant, strategic and tactical military communications.

The extremely high frequency (EHF) payload leverages protected communications technologies the company developed for the Air Force's Advanced EHF (AEHF) satellite payloads on a smaller scale to meet reduced mission requirements for EPS. The first payload delivered will become part of an overall EPS network planned to replace the Interim Polar System currently on orbit and serve as a polar adjunct to AEHF.

"Because EPS takes advantage of technologies we developed for Advanced EHF satellite payloads, such as the eXtended Data Rate waveform, we are developing these payloads at a fraction of the time and cost," said Tim Frei, vice president, communication systems, for the company's Aerospace Systems sector. "Mission success for EPS is greatly enhanced by the government's leveraging of Northrop Grumman's AEHF payload designs, processes, facilities and people."

Frei said delivery of the first EPS protected communications payload "demonstrates that AEHF-like anti-jam capabilities can be scaled to meet a range of requirements from various customers, providing a pathway for disaggregated satellite architectures that have the potential to make protected communications affordable and available for many more users."

Both EPS payloads feature onboard processing units similar to those on AEHF satellites but are modified to meet reduced mission requirements, said Frei. The payloads integrate functions of the Configurable On board Router, Demodulator and Resource Control Computer / Security Equipment Computer on AEHF payloads into a single eXtended Data Rate Processing Unit on EPS, for example.

For the same reason, certain components essential for AEHF payloads, such as crosslinks, nulling antennas and phased array antennas, are not included on EPS payloads, Frei said.

"Flexible, scalable payload capabilities now available can provide constant, assured, jam-resistant, covert communications for tactical and strategic warfighters in all wartime conditions," he added.

Payload development began in 2008; the Air Force plans initial operational capability for EPS for Calendar Year 2018. EPS consists of two EHF payloads hosted on classified satellites, a gateway to connect modified Navy Multiband Terminals to other communication systems, and a control and planning segment.

The MILSATCOM directorate at the Air Force's Space and Missile Systems Center at Los Angeles Air Force Base, Calif., is acquiring the mission control and gateway segments.

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