Lockheed Martin Receives $3.3 Billion Contract to Support AEHF, Milstar and DSCS III Military Satellite Programs

Lockheed Martin has been awarded a contract, with a ceiling amount of around $3.3 billion, for combined orbital operations, logistics and resiliency support services in support of U.S. military satellite programs.

The single-award, indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity (IDIQ) contract was awarded by the U.S. Air Force’s Space and Missile System Center at the Peterson Air Force Base, Colorado.

This contract provides for operations, sustainment and enhancement activities to support the Advanced Extremely High Frequency (AEHF), Milstar and Defense Satellite Communications System III (DSCS III) programs.

Work will be performed at Peterson Air Force Base, Colorado; Schriever Air Force Base, Colorado; and Sunnyvale, California, and is expected to be completed by Nov. 30, 2029.


Milstar (Military Strategic and Tactical Relay) is a constellation of military communications satellites in geostationary orbit, which are operated by the U.S. Air Force. It provides the U.S. armed forces with assured, survivable satellite communications (SATCOM) with a low probability of interception and detection, and is designed to operate through contested environments.

The objective of the Milstar program was to create a global, secure, nuclear survivable, space-based communication system (considered a top national priority during the Reagan Administration in the 1980s).

Six spacecraft were launched between 1994 and 2003, of which five are currently operational; the third launch reportedly failed, both damaging the satellite and leaving it in an unusable orbit.

The follow-on to Milstar, Advanced EHF (AEHF) program augments Milstar.

Illustration of a Milstar satellite.

Advanced Extremely High Frequency (AEHF)

The Advanced Extremely High Frequency System (AEHF) is a U.S. joint service satellite communications (SATCOM) system that provides survivable, global, secure, protected, and jam-resistant communications for high-priority military ground, sea and air assets.

AEHF enables the U.S. Department of Defense to control tactical and strategic forces through all levels of conflict and supports the attainment of space superiority for the joint force. It provides continuous 24-hour coverage between north and south poles.

The AEHF System is the follow-on to the Milstar system, augmenting the capabilities of Milstar, and expanding the MILSATCOM architecture. AEHF provides connectivity across the spectrum of mission areas, including land, air and naval warfare; special operations; strategic nuclear operations; strategic defense; theater missile defense; and space operations and intelligence. Multiple international partners support the AEHF program.

The AEHF system program of record consists of multiple satellites in geosynchronous earth orbit that provides 10 times the throughput of the 1990s-era satellites with a substantial increase in coverage for users.

The first AEHF was launched on Aug. 14, 2010, followed by launches on May 4, 2012, Sept. 18, 2013, Oct. 17, 2018, and Aug. 8, 2019. The next launch is scheduled for early CY20.

Advanced Extremely High Frequency (AEHF) satellite
Illustration of an Advanced Extremely High Frequency (AEHF) satellite. Courtesy of U.S. Air Force.

Defense Satellite Communications System III (DSCS III)

Defense Satellite Communications System (DSCS) constellation provides long haul communications to users worldwide through contested environments. DSCS supports the defense communications system, the military’s ground mobile forces, airborne terminals, ships at sea, and the Department of Defense (DOD).

The first DSCS III satellite was launched in October 1982. The final DSCS III satellite, B6, was launched in August 2003. In all, DSCS III program successfully launched 14 satellites, six of which are still operational and continue to be used in various capacities, from operational communications in Southwest Asia to research and development of ground-based support capabilities. Space and Missile Systems Center (SMC), Los Angeles Air Force Base, Calif., sustains the DSCS Space Segment contract.

Beginning in 2007, DSCS is being replaced by the Wideband Global SATCOM system.

U.S. Air Force DSCS III Satellite
Illustration of an DSCS (Defense Satellite Communications System) III Satellite. Courtesy of U.S. Air Force.

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