Northrop Grumman and Lockheed Martin have tested a new satellite terminal with an orbiting spacecraft.

The low-cost terminal (LCT), an internal development project by the two companies, connected to an Advanced Extremely High Frequency (AEHF) satellite.

“This is the first time that a completely industry-funded and -developed terminal has been allowed to access the AEHF satellite,” said a Lockheed Martin announcement. “In order to reach this milestone, the security architecture had to be validated by the appropriate organizations, and additional approvals had to come from Strategic Command and Air Force Space Command.”

The LCT comes in three variants: airborne, ground comm-on-the-move and fixed terminals.

“This is a huge milestone for protected satellite communications and its military users,” said Cyrus Dhalla, Northrop Grumman’s vice president of communications systems. “LCT achieves low cost by leveraging existing designs, technology, and investments, while adopting a commercial procurement and production model. It was designed for easy operation and low maintenance and training costs to make it truly affordable for tactical users needing highly protected anti-jam, low probability of detection communications.”

If proper certifications can be achieved in time, the terminals will be ready for fielding by the end of 2018, Lockheed Martin said.