US, Five Countries Form Wideband SATCOM Partnership

The U.S. and five countries are forming a partnership to expand wideband global satellite communication capabilities, the U.S. Air Force announced Wednesday.

The Air Force said senior defense officials from Canada, Denmark, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, New Zealand and the U.S. held a steering committee meeting.

The agreement calls on the partnership to contribute $620 million of the approximately $1 billion cost for deploying a ninth WGS satellite.  The entire program is valued at more than $10 billion, according to the Air Force.

Member countries will be able to use the satellites for military wideband communication purposes.

“These activities will bolster our mutual trust, help to achieve further interoperability for our warfighters, and will increase the capabilities and capacity of all partners,” said Heidi Grant, the Air Force’s deputy undersecretary for international affairs.

The Boeing-built wideband satellites form the Defense Department’s highest-capacity satellite communications system, according to Boeing. Wideband satellites provide warfighter information exchange, C4ISR capabilities, battle management and combat support.

Three wideband satellites are currently in orbit and cover the Pacific Ocean region, the Middle East, Europe and Africa. A fourth satellite is scheduled to launch on Jan. 19, 2012, according to an Air Force fact sheet.

Six satellites are scheduled to launch between 2012 and 2018.

“This new WGS partnership provides an example of how the U.S. plans to continue exploring opportunities to strengthen our existing cooperative relationship and to build new partnerships,” Grant said.

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