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A bent-pipe relay communication system and method of using same. The bent-pipe relay communication system includes a plurality of bent-pipe relay channels, each channel having automatic gain control. Each channel of the plurality of bent-pipe relay channels includes a radio -frequency-to-intermediate-frequency demodulator, at least one programmable variable gain amplifier, and an intermediate-frequency-to-radio-frequency modulator. The communication system further includes at least one radio frequency power detector operably connected to the intermediate-frequency-to-radio-frequency modulator for each channel. The system also includes at least one controller communicating with the at least one radio frequency power detector and the at least one variable gain amplifier for the each channel to provide the automatic gain control.