The Air Force concluded a six-month rigorous and complex multiservice operational test and evaluation of its Advanced Extremely High Frequency system in January at Schriever Air Force Base, Colorado.
The test and evaluation’s goal was to ensure the AEHF system performed its missions the way it was designed -to provide survivable, global, secure, protected and jam-resistant communications for military ground, sea and air assets.
The Air Force Operational Test and Evaluation Center Detachment 4 at Peterson Air Force Base, Colorado, partnered with the 4th Space Operations Squadron, which is responsible for the command and control of the system, as well as other Air Force, Army, Navy and Marine units.
“In the event that we go into a nuclear war, we have to make sure a communication link for Department of Defense components and national leadership is available during a contested environment,” said Maj. Matthew Collins, AFOTEC Det. 4 AEHF test director. “And (AEHF) is a system that is capable of providing that connectivity.”
To ensure AEHF meets its mission, the team laid out test and evaluation objectives — validate the AEHF’s advanced ground mobile unit, validate the system’s integration to the legacy Milstar constellation, confirm its communication capability for the end-users and ensure the system can operate in a nuclear environment.
Ground mobile unit
In order to validate its advanced ground mobile units, 4 SOPS simulated a deployment of its ground mobile assets to make it easier for personnel and to save time and money. The squadron members operated the satellite constellation from the mobile systems instead of from the squadron’s normal control center in the Integrated Operations Environment.
“If for some reason, we need to go out and operate the satellites because we can’t do it here at Schriever because of a threat, a war or any incident, then we go operate out of our mobile units,” said Lt. Col. Zachary Owen, 4 SOPS director of operations. “The piece of this testing was to make sure we can operate out of those mobile units for an extended period of time.”
Since 4 SOPS has a unique ability to operate its satellites using two control systems, it allowed the mobile units to operate the satellites using its dedicated system, which is the AEHF Satellite Mission Control Subsystem. For the duration of the test, 4 SOPS maximized its use of the mobile ASMCS capability and minimized its operations from the IOE; though 4 SOPS kept a presence in the IOE for command and control of the day-to-day operational mission.
Source:: Air Force Space Command