Wideband Global SATCOM

Product Type:

Communications Satellite System

Using Service (US):

Air Force (USAF)

Program Status:

Last satellite purchased FY 2012

Prime Contractors:

The Boeing Company

Specifications DoD Spending FY2015 Budget

WGS Satellites

About the WGS Program:

The Wideband Global SATCOM (WGS) Satellite system (previously known as the Wideband Gapfiller Satellites) is a constellation of satellites in geosynchronous orbit providing worldwide communication coverage for tactical and fixed users. The complete WGS constellation will consist of a total of ten satellites (eight U.S. funded, one funded by Australia, and one funded by other international partners). The WGS prime contractor is Boeing, which will build the satellites based on its proven 702 HP/MP satellite platform.

With its first launch in October 2007 (SV-1), second launch in April 2009 (SV-2), and third launch in December 2009 (SV-3), WGS Space Vehicles are the highest capacity communications satellites used by the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD). The Block II satellites SV-4, SV-5 and SV-6 were launched on January 19, 2012; May 24, 2013; and August 7, 2013, respectively. According to Boeing, all six operational satellites are meeting or exceeding their mission requirements.

The constellation provides communications service in both the X and Ka-band frequency spectrums. WGS supplements X-band communications now provided by the Defense Satellite Communications System (DSCS) and provides a one-way Ka-band service, similar to the one provided by the Global Broadcast Service (GBS). Additionally, WGS provides a new two-way Ka-band service. The WGS satellites provide a major leap in communications capacity, connectivity and flexibility for U.S. armed forces, while seamlessly integrating with current and future X-band and Ka-band terminals. Each WGS satellite provides more SATCOM capacity than the entire DSCS constellation. The communications services provided by the WGS satellites allows military commanders to exert command & control of tactical forces. These forces will rely on WGS to provide high-capacity connectivity into the terrestrial portion of the Defense Information Systems Network (DISN).

In January 2012, a multilateral partnership between the United States, Canada, Denmark, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, and New Zealand was codified. U.S. contributions include existing and programmed infrastructure, to include the acquisition, launch, operations, and sustainment costs of WGS Space Vehicles 1-8, and the launch, operations, and sustainment of WGS-9. Contributions from other partners will fund WGS SV-9 acquisition and support activities.

Part of the MILSATCOM Directorate's Wideband SATCOM Group, the WGS system is composed of three principal segments: Space Segment
(satellites), Control Segment (operators) and Terminal Segment (users). The Wideband SATCOM Group is responsible for development, acquisition, fielding and sustainment of the WGS Program. Block II follow-on satellites 7, 8 and 9 are anticipated for launch in FY 2016, FY 2017, and FY 2018 respectively. Satellites are launched by Delta IV or Atlas V Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicles (EELV).

Communication Features:
-X-band: 8x spot-beam transmit/receive via phased-array antennas
-Ka-band: 10x gimbaled dish antennas
-35x 125 MHz channels.

The WGS constellation is controlled from four Wideband Satellite Operation Centers equipped with ground-based control elements delivered by Boeing, Exelis, and Raytheon. Platform control is conducted from Schriever Air Force Base (home of the 50th Space Wing) in Colorado.

Price/Unit Cost:

The unit cost of a WGS satellite (SV-8) is $353.90 million (in FY 2012).

Total Cost - Life of Program (LoP):

The total procurement cost of the WGS program is $3.32 billion (official DoD estimate) + $0.41 billion in research and development (RDT&E) funds, which means the total estimated program cost is $3.73 billion (numbers are aggregated annual funds spent over the life of the program and no price/inflation adjustment was made).


The Wideband Global SATCOM Satellite system will provide a high-capacity military communications capability. The constellation delivers wideband communications and point-to-point service on Ka-band and X-band frequencies.

FY 2014 DoD Program:

FY 2014 funds the checkout, launch and support costs of WGS #5 and #6 and development completion of architecture evolution studies to increase WGS capacity. Procurement funds in the amount of $38.4M have been allocated to the WGS system.

FY 2015 DoD Program:

FY 2014 funds the checkout, launch, and support costs of WGS # 5 and #6. Development continues Command and Control System-Consolidated (CCS-C) system architecture changes to increase WGS capacity and reduce downtime, plus funds upgrades to WGS space and ground software/hardware to implement constellation-wide changes that will locate and neutralize ground-based jamming threats.

For more information, click to see the Navy FY 2015 DoD Wideband Global SATCOM Budget.

Source: U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) and The Boeing Company

Last Update: November 10, 2014.

By Joakim Kasper Oestergaard Balle /// (jkasper@bga-aeroweb.com)

External Resources:

Boeing's WGS Site: Wideband Global SATCOM

YouTube: Wideband Global SATCOM | YouTube Videos

Fact Sheet: Wideband Global SATCOM | Fact Sheet

Total WGS Program Cost:

  $3.73 billion  ($3.32B procurement + $0.41B RDT&E)

WGS Procurement Objective:

  8 satellites  (8 production and 0 development)

WGS U.S. Defense Budget Charts:

DoD Spending on the WGS System in FY 2011, FY 2012, FY 2013, FY 2014 and FY 2015
DoD Purchases of WGS Satellites in FY 2011, FY 2012, FY 2013, FY 2014 and FY 2015
Defense Budget Data

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DoD Spending, Procurement and RDT&E: FY 2011/12/13 + Budget for FYs 2014 + 2015

DoD Defense Spending, Procurement, Modifications, Spares, and RDT&E for the Wideband Global SATCOM (WGS) System

Download Official U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) Budget Data:

Purchases of WGS Satellites and Associated Equipment (USAF)

Specifications: Wideband Global SATCOM (WGS) System

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Primary Function: High-capacity military communications satellite
Prime Contractor: The Boeing Company
Weight: Approximately 13,000 lbs (5,900 kg) at launch; 7,600 lbs (3,450 kg) on-orbit
Orbit Altitude: 22,300 miles (35,900 km)
Payload: Transponded, cross-banded-X and Ka-band communications suite
Antennas: Eight beam, transmit and receive X-band Phased arrays
and 10 Ka-band gimbaled dish antennas, 1 X-band Earth coverage
Capability: 35x 125-MHz Channels via digital channelizer/router
Launch Vehicle: Delta IV and Atlas V Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicles (EELV)
Price/Unit Cost: $353.9 million (in FY 2012)
Deployed: The first WGS satellite was launched on October 10, 2007

Defense Program

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