Perched atop the Delta IV rocket as it blasted off in Cape Canaveral Air Force Station on March 18 was a US Air Force's Wideband Global SATCOM (WGS-9) satellite.

The WGS-9 will be the ninth member of the planned network of 10 military communication satellites in space.

"WGS provides anytime, anywhere communications for soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines and international partnership through broadcast, multicast, and point-to-point connections," Robert Tarleton, director of the Military Satellite Communications Systems Directorate at Air Force Space Command in Los Angeles, said.

Increased Speed, Reliability, And Effectiveness

Military satellite communications are changing the landscape of contemporary war science, where fighting units can see through the so-called "fog of war".

It provided the U.S. military the edge it needed in terms of increased military connectivity all over the world, even in areas with zero communications infrastructure.

The WGS network of satellites has been designed to provide the technology to see to it that warfighters' requirements are efficiently met in real time.

With WGS-9 added to the constellation, the military units of the United States and its partners will have increased speed, reliability, and effectiveness that will lead to enhanced coordination of air, land, and sea missions.

The constellation is now the only military communications systems with the capability to support the X-band and Ka-band communications.


The cross-border and global nature of conflicts and humanitarian missions depend largely on satellite communications (SATCOM). Over the years, the Defense Satellite Communications System Phase II (DSCS III) and UHF SATCOM programs had been providing this function.

Everything has changed, however, after 9/11. The global nature of conflict has created the demand for greater to improve connectivity, reliability, interoperability, and flexibility.

The WGS-9 spacecraft with its X-band and Ka-band frequencies give the military seamless communications onboard the satellites.

X-band can deliver sensitive and tactical communication while the Ka-band is capable of increased data transmission over a range of frequency.

"These characteristics provide a quantum leap in communications capacity, connectivity, and flexibility for US military forces and international partners while seamlessly integrating with current and future X- and Ka-band terminals," an official WGS factsheet said.

There are four factors listed that make Ka-band as the preferred frequency for mobile and global satellite communications such as reliability, resiliency, size, and flexibility.

The last spacecraft, WGS-10, to complete the 10-spacecraft constellation is expected to be launched in 2018. The Department of Defense has not yet announced its launching.

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