Military Embedded Systems

More than 36,000 MMICs delivered for AEHF payloads


May 12, 2014

John McHale

Editorial Director

Military Embedded Systems

REDONDO BEACH, CA. Northrop Grumman engineers delivered more than 36,000 integrated circuits (ICs) for payloads onboard the U.S. Air Force's fifth and sixth Advanced Extremely High Frequency (AEHF) satellites.

Each payload has about 18,000 high-frequency Monolithic Microwave Integrated Circuits (MMICs) that are used for frequency conversion, amplification, and switching. The MMICs are integrated throughout major subsystems such as anti-jam uplinks and downlinks, secure crosslinks, and super high gain earth coverage antennas.

Northrop Grumman provides AEHF payloads for Lockheed Martin Space Systems in Sunnyvale, CA., the prime contractor for next generation protected military communications satellites. Three Advanced EHF satellites are on-orbit now and three more are in production.

Northrop Grumman engineers fabricated the specialty compound semiconductors at its advanced microelectronics wafer fabrication facility located in Manhattan Beach, Calif.

The MMIC-based devices operate at microwave frequencies between 300 megahertz to 300 gigahertz and beyond. A single, MMIC-based component the size of a quarter can handle as many functions as a traditional, brick-size electronic black box.

One Advanced EHF satellite will enable greater total capacity than the entire Milstar constellation now on orbit, according to Northrop Grumman officials. Individual user data rates will be five times improved, permitting two-way, jam-resistant transmission of tactical military communication such as real-time video, battlefield maps, and targeting data.


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