USAF awards ULA satcom launch

Washington DC
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The US Air Force has awarded $150 million (£95 million) to United Launch Alliance for the launch of the fifth Boeing Wideband Global Satellite Communications system (WGS-5). WGS-5, the second Block II model, will be launched from atop a Boeing Delta IV from Vandenberg AFB, California, to provide global X- and Ka-band communications for the Department of Defense (DoD). The launch is scheduled for late 2012. Neither ULA or the air force were available for immediate comment.

The eight-satellite constellation will augment the Defense Satellite Communications System (DSCS) as a backbone of global military communications. Three satellites have been launched thus far, with the most recent launch occurring in December, 2009. WGS-4, the first Block II model, is scheduled for launch on 19 January, and the Block II constellation will be completed with the launch of WGS-6 in 2013.

DoD information systems have been increasingly strained by the rapid development of unmanned air vehicle (UAV) and information-intensive operations, requiring massive amounts of data transmission.