The Air Force has completed on-orbit testing of AEHF-2, the second Advanced Extremely High Frequency military communications satellite. The test campaign, which concluded in late September, included a period of single-satellite testing followed by crosslink testing between AEHF-1 and AEHF-2, and culminated with testing in the operational Milstar constellation, states an Oct. 31 release from Air Force space officials at Los Angeles AFB, Calif. The testing “successfully demonstrated the performance” of an all-AEHF constellation and also validated that “multiple AEHF satellites can operate seamlessly within a Milstar constellation,” states the release. AEHF satellites will eventually replace the Milstar constellation. Like Milstar satellites, AEHF spacecraft are designed to provide global assured and protected communications to the US national leadership and military commanders. The Air Force and its industry partners launched Lockheed Martin-built AEHF-2 into orbit in early May; the satellite arrived at its intended orbit in August.
The Air Force overall reduced its size by 120 aircraft in fiscal year 2021, but kept about the same number of fighter, bomber and attack aircraft, according to data supplied by the service. The F-35 fleet saw the biggest increase while the B-1B bomber fleet saw the largest decline.