• To improve resiliency, the U.S. Air Force Space and Missile Center is leveraging commercial satellite communications technology for its next series of Wideband Global SATCOM (WGS) satellites on the WGS11+ platform. Pictured is the Boeing-built WGS-9 satellite aboard a United Launch Alliance Delta IV Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle launched from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida in 2017. Photo Courtesy of the United Launch Alliance
     To improve resiliency, the U.S. Air Force Space and Missile Center is leveraging commercial satellite communications technology for its next series of Wideband Global SATCOM (WGS) satellites on the WGS11+ platform. Pictured is the Boeing-built WGS-9 satellite aboard a United Launch Alliance Delta IV Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle launched from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida in 2017. Photo Courtesy of the United Launch Alliance

Advancing Military SATCOM Through WGS 11+

January 3, 2020
Posted by Kimberly Underwood
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The military satellite communications platform is leveraging commercial technology to increase resiliency.


The U.S. Air Force Space and Missile Systems Center is harnessing advanced satellite communication technology from the private sector through the Wideband Global SATCOM (WGS) 11+ platform and its Pathfinder effort. The WGS-11+ effort is centered on capabilities that will provide more coverage beams, beam-formed bandwidth and frequency re-use than existing legacy systems, according to a release from the center known as SMC, located at Los Angeles Air Force Base.

The center’s Production Corps and Portfolio Architect’s Mission System Integration team, working with The Boeing Company, completed a crucial review agreement together with the Army and Navy. The effort defines the technical baseline for system performance across an aggressive five-year schedule.

Part of the WGS 11+ team is embedded at a Boeing facility, and is seeing firsthand the testing performance of the company’s commercial space application that employs similar digital payload technologies that the military can utilize.

“WGS 11+ is a Space and Missile Systems Center pacesetter for the rapid application and fielding of commercial technology,” according to an SMC statement. “The SMC Production Corps and Portfolio Architect’s Mission System Integration team jointly championed a successful first-ever, cross-corps systems requirements review (SRR) to help the government and Boeing reach a mutual agreement on a system performance specification to satisfy warfighter needs quickly.”

The WGS-11+ team been prototyping Pathfinder hardware units, which they will use to assess and reduce deployment risks in their final production build as part of their so-called Road to Preliminary Design Review effort. Ultimately, the WGS-11+ platform “will be capable of forming unique coverage areas anywhere within the field of regard—each sized optimally as mission needs demand.” It will also enable seamless broadband interconnectivity for X-band and Ka-band users, and advanced operations in a contested environment.

The effort is designed to provide military SATCOM with greater inherent resilience.

“The resilient design will deliver Combatant Commanders twice the mission capability through contested environments—improving capacity and coverage to soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines.” said Col. John Dukes, USAF, chief of the Geosynchronous/Polar Division, SMC Production Corps.

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