Two Norwegian satellites will host the core components of the U.S. Air Force’s next generation satellite communications system for the arctic, Northrop Grumman announced July 3.

The Air Force payloads are part of the the Enhanced Polar System Recapitalization project, a program that fills the military’s satellite communications need in the arctic reguib, which is not regularly covered by the Advanced Extremely High Frequency satellite system or its predecessor, the Milstar system. EPS-R will replace the Interim Polar System, which has been providing military satellite communications in the North polar region since 1998 as an adjunct to Milstar.

Similar to the AEHF satellites, the EPS-R payloads will provide secure, anti-jamming communications for war fighters.

The Pentagon announced the $428.8 million contract with Northrop Grumman for the Air Force EPS-R payloads in February 2018. At the time, the Pentagon noted that the payloads could be hosted on a separately procured satellite.

Then, on July 3, Northrop Grumman announced it had been awarded a contract from Space Norway for two satellites capable of delivering the agency’s Arctic Satellite Broadband Mission. The two Space Norway satellites will carry several payloads, including an X-Band payload for Norwegian Defense, a Ka-Band payload for Inmarsat and the two Air Force payloads.

Work on the Air Force payloads was originally expected to be completed in December 2022, though Northrop Grumman now expects both satellites will launch in late 2022.

Nathan Strout covers space, unmanned and intelligence systems for C4ISRNET.

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