Canadian Defense Minister Confirms WGS Pact with United States, Australia
[Satellite TODAY Insider 01-18-12] Canada will enter a pact with the United States and Australia in the 10-satellite Wideband Global Satcom (WGS) project to provide secure communications for Canadian Forces, Canadian Defense Minister Peter MacKay confirmed Jan. 17.
The Canadian government will pledge $337.3 million toward the project, which will go toward building WGS-9, the ninth satellite in the system. Boeing Space and Intelligence Systems announced Jan. 13 that it was awarded the WGS-9 construction contract. An announcement on the 10th satellite in the system is expected soon, with the entire constellation scheduled to be in operation by 2017.
Canada’s participation in the WGS program follows Australia’s agreement with the U.S. Department of Defense in 2007 to contribute more than $800 million to pay for the sixth WGS satellite in exchange for access to a portion of its overall bandwidth. Similar deals are being negotiated with governments in New Zealand, Luxembourg, Denmark and the Netherlands.
“In the past, Canada has used commercial satellite systems,” MacKay said. Buying into the existing WGS system will provide Canada’s military with rapid and secure frequencies used exclusively for government communications right away. Satellites allow us to forecast weather, better protect civilian life through the targeted strikes, control uninhabited aerial vehicles, and give real-time analysis of events as they are unfolding on the battlefield.”
Associate Minister of Defense Julian Fantino added that Boeing is obliged under the pact agreement to return $100 million in industrial regional benefits to Canada. “Rapid and secure satellite communications between our headquarters and between deployed forces are now a crucial part of mission success.”
The WGS communications system is used by the Pentagon to support U.S. warfighters, allies and coalition partners during all levels of conflict. The U.S. Department of Defense planned the system to have as many as nine military satellites in orbit over different parts of the world to provide high frequency bandwidth for U.S. and allied forces in all theaters of operation.