WGS satellite

Boeing has delivered the fifth Wideband Global SATCOM (WGS-5) military communications satellite to the US Air Force (USAF), for its planned launch from the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida, US, in 2013.

Scheduled to be launched aboard a United Launch Alliance Delta IV rocket, the satellite will now undergo preflight checkout, fuelling and integration testing at the Astrotech payload processing facility, in Titusville, Florida, US.

Representing the second satellite to be procured under the upgraded Block II series contract, the WGS-5 is designed to enable the USAF to rapidly transmit airborne intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) imagery, ensuring instant and secure global connectivity.

The satellite features a switchable radio frequency bypass, which sends imagery approximately three-times faster compared to the data rates presently available to the US Department of Defense (DoD).

The WGS-6 Block II WGS satellite has already completed testing and is currently in storage awaiting its scheduled launch in the middle of 2013.

Ordered by the USAF under a Block II follow-on contract in August 2010, WGS-7 to 10 satellites are currently in various stages of development.

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Boeing Space & Intelligence Systems vice president and general manager Craig Cooning said the company is working closely with the USAF to follow a commercial operating model on the Block II follow-on contract.

"WGS-5 is designed to enable the USAF to rapidly transmit airborne intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) imagery."

"This new model has saved the air force more than $150m without compromising mission assurance," Cooning added.

Built on the Boeing 702HP platform, WGS satellites are designed to support missions including to and fro tactical communications between ground forces and the relaying of data and imagery from airborne ISR platforms.

Equipped with efficient xenon-ion propulsion, deployable thermal radiators and advanced triple-junction gallium-arsenide solar arrays, the satellites also facilitate interconnection between terminals operating in different frequency bands and reposition coverage beams as per mission requirements.

Image: Impression of Wideband Global SATCOM Block II satellite in orbit. Photo: Boeing image.

Defence Technology