The US Air Force’s (USAF) 4th Space Operations Squadron (4 SOPS) has taken over the operational control of its first wideband global SATCOM (WGS) satellite.

The WGS satellites are the US's high-capacity communication satellites, offering high data rate and long-haul communications for marines, soldiers, sailors, airmen, the White House Communication Agency, the US State Department, international partners, and other special users.

4 SOPS lieutenant colonel Armon Lansing said: “Wideband communication provides the capability to send a large amount of data through space.

“Just like your typical ground systems: dial-up versus broadband versus fibre optic, as you step up your capability, you can get more data through the system. One WGS satellite has as much data throughput as the former defence support communication satellite system had in the entire constellation.”

The 4 SOPS, which is the newly merged squadron, assumed control of WGS-9 for the first time.

The WGS-9 spacecraft was handed over to the airforce, upon completion of rigorous orbit and payload testing.

"Having that additional bandwidth allows us to support more users."

The 3rd Space Operations Squadron, which was recently deactivated, assumed control of eight other WGS satellites that are currently orbiting in the constellation.

These satellites are being managed by 4 SOPS, the USAF stated.

4 SOPS satellite engineer 1st Lieutenant Steven Ramos said: “WGS increases the bandwidth of that constellation by about 13%.

“Just having that additional bandwidth allows us to support more users. Having more users to be able to get the mission done on the ground is a huge advantage.”

The USAF originally ordered six of the satellites from Boeing. However, the speed, success and demand drove the purchase of four additional satellites.