The second wideband global SATCOM (WGS) satellite for the US Air Force has begun supporting on-the-ground warfighters in the Middle East and central Asia.

The satellite is built on the Boeing 702 platform, which has the ability to connect X-band and Ka-band users within their field of view through an on-board digital channeliser. It works on 13kW of power and has the capability to reconfigure coverage areas.

The Boeing-built WGS-2 satellite lifted-off in April 2009 and was handed over to the air force in June 2009 for extensive on-orbit testing.

The WGS satellites are one of US defense department’s highest-capacity satellite communications system built to address the military’s growing need for high-bandwidth communications.

Air Force Space and Missile Systems Centre Military Satellite Communications Systems Wing vice commander Col. Bill Harding said that with its outstanding capacity, operational flexibility and performance, WGS is fast becoming the satellite communications workhorse for the US forces.

The satellites are augmenting and will eventually replace the defence satellite communications system (DSCS) constellation. One WGS satellite has over 12 times the capacity of a DSCS satellite.

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The air force awarded contracts to Boeing for building three block I and three block II WGS satellites for the air force.

The final satellite in the block I series, WGS-3 is scheduled for launch later in 2009 and the block II satellites are planned for launch in 2011 and 2012.