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Ultra High Frequency Follow-On (UFO)

The Ultra High Frequency Follow-on (UFO) Satellite Program provides communications for airborne, ship, submarine, and ground forces.(1) The UFO constellation will replace the current Fleet Satellite Communications System (FLTSATCOM) constellation and will consist of eight satellites and one on-orbit spare. The ground terminal segment consists of equipment and resident personnel at existing satellite communication stations.(2)

Its UHF satellites will primarily serve tactical users. UFO provides almost twice as many channels as FLTSATCOM and has about 10 percent more power per channel.(3) The EHF package on satellites four through nine have an Earth coverage beam and a steerable five-degree spot beam that enhances its tactical use. The EHF capability also allows the UFO network to connect to the strategic Milstar system.

First launch of the UFO took place on 25 March 1993, with constellation completion dependent on replacement needs for the aging FLTSATCOM constellation. The Atlas II is the current launch vehicle of choice; however, space shuttle compatibility will exist. The UFO bus and payload weigh 2,300 pounds. The solar array spans 60.5 feet and produce 2,500 watts at the end of the planned 14-year lifetime.


1. Maj Michael J. Muolo, Maj Richard A. Hand, Maj Bonnie Houchen and Maj Lou Larson, Space Handbook A War Fighter's Guide to Space -- Volume One, AU-18, Air University Air Command and Staff College, (Air University Press, Maxwell Air Force Base, Alabama, December 1993).

2. Maj Theodore W. Burgner, "Space Handbook" (Paper presented as input for revision of Air University Space Handbook, 2d Space Wing/DOT, Falcon AFB, Colo., August 1991).

3. Michael A. Dornheim, "Navy Likely to Add New Capability to UHF Follow-on Communications Satellites," Aviation Week & Space Technology, 4 June 1990, page 69.

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