AEHF-1, the first Advanced Extremely High Frequency military communications satellite, is now more than half way to its intended geosynchronous orbit where it will operate, Air Force space officials announced Thursday. They said the satellite crossed the half-way mark on March 22 when its perigee climbed above 17,893 kilometers in altitude above the Earth. Since then, its orbit has surpassed a perigee of 20,000 kilometers in elevation. The officials said they expect AEHF-1 to reach its geosynchronous perch in late summer. The Air Force launched AEHF-1 into space last August. An anomaly with one of the satellite’s propulsion systems necessitated the ongoing orbit-raising activities. USAF and industry officials have “demonstrated incredible technical expertise and innovation to work around the anomaly and create the opportunity to achieve mission success for this critical national asset,” said Dave Madden, Military Satellite Communications Systems director at Los Angeles AFB, Calif.
U.S. Air Force F-35s and F-22s regularly deploy deep into the Pacific region from Alaska, Utah, and Hawaii. In the future, though, the head of U.S. Indo-Pacific Command would like to see the Air Force permanently station fifth-generation aircraft west of the international date line—closer to China.