Northrop Grumman has delivered to the U.S. Air Force the first of two satellite payloads that provides secure, jam-resistant communications to support strategic forces operating near the North Pole, according to a Feb. 25 press release.

The Enhanced Polar System (EPS) consists of extremely high-frequency payloads hosted aboard classified satellites operating in polar orbit. Intended to replace the Interim Polar System, the EPS will complement the Air Force’s Advanced Extremely High Frequency (AEHF) secure communications, which operate in geostationary orbit above the equator.

Northrop Grumman Aerospace Systems of Redondo Beach, Calif., provides the payloads for the AEHF satellites, whose mission includes command and control of nuclear forces. Because of their orbital geometry, AEHF satellites cannot provide service at extreme northern latitudes, where missile-carrying submarines often operate.

“Flexible, scalable payload capabilities now available can provide constant, assured, jam-resistant, covert communications for tactical and strategic warfighters in all wartime conditions,” Tim Frei, vice president, communication systems, for Northrop Grumman Aerospace Systems, said in a statement.

Engineers drew on knowledge, payload designs and processes from the AEHF program to complete the project. Development of the EPS payloads began in 2008, with the first expected to begin operations in 2018, according to a press release.