General Dynamics (GD) Canada has been awarded two contracts to support the Mercury Global project, which represents the country’s contribution to the Wideband Global SATCOM (WGS) military communications satellite system.
Awarded by the Canadian Department of National Defence (DND), the first $59.1m contract covers the design-and-build of the Mercury Global anchor stations, while the second $8.5m order will be used for ongoing in-service support.
In January 2012, the DND joined the WGS system as part of an international partnership to develop a global military satellite communications capability, designed to offer high-capacity wideband communications.
In particular, Canada agreed to provide $337.3m for the construction of a ninth WGS satellite, in exchange for nearly 20 years of access to reserved frequencies for military communications systems in theatres of operation worldwide.
The Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) would ultimately have access to bandwidth from the nine satellite constellation and utilise three anchor sites located in Eastern, Central and Western Canada.
Canadian Defence Minister Rob Nicholson said: "The ability to rapidly exchange information in today’s modern military operations at home and abroad is critical to the mission of our Canadian Armed Forces.
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"The Mercury Global project will lead to significant cost savings for the military, more efficient access to information for the troops on the ground, and better in-theatre communication during periods of conflict."
The anchor stations manufactured under the contract would be able to communicate with the WGS satellite constellation and link them to existing CAF communications infrastructure.
With the Mercury Global project, Canada has the most effective way of meeting the capability requirements outlined in the Canada First Defence Strategy for domestic and expeditionary operations.
Built on the Boeing 702HP platform, WGS satellites are designed to support missions such as to and from tactical communications between ground forces and the relaying of data and imagery from airborne intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance platforms.
To date, five WGS satellites have been launched, while the ten WGS-7 satellites ordered by the US from Boeing in August 2010 are currently in various stages of development.
Other WGS partners include Australia, Denmark, Luxembourg, Netherlands, New Zealand, and the US.
Image: An artistic impression of Wideband Global SATCOM satellite in orbit. Photo: courtesy of WGS Program Office.