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Production Contract for AEHF-4: The Air Force has awarded Lockheed Martin a $1.3 billion contract for production of the fourth Advanced Extremely High Frequency Satellite and associated equipment and services. "This production contract reflects the Air Force's strong commitment to providing superior protected communications capabilities for the warfighter," stated Lockheed in a release provided to the Daily Report Thursday. AEHF satellites are designed to provide secure communications links to US national leaders and military forces worldwide as well as some US allies. The Air Force revised its AEHF plans after terminating the Transformational Satellite Communications program in 2009 by opting to procure additional AEHF spacecraft. AEHF-4 is the first spacecraft that the Air Force is buying after a four-year production break, so there are added costs in restarting the production line. The first AEHF reached orbit on Aug. 14, but is not yet operational. (See DOD's Dec. 15 major contracts list)