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MILSATCOM Announces Wideband Gapfiller Contract

Los Angeles Air Force Base -- The MILSATCOM Systems Wing has definitized a contract with options worth $1.067 Billion for the second block of satellites in the Wideband Gapfiller Satellites (WGS) program. The Block II satellites will be similar to the three Block I satellites already in production, but with an added radio frequency bypass capability designed to support airborne intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (AISR) platforms requiring ultra-high bandwidth. The FAR Part 15 contract contains options for three satellites. The Block II contract enables the Government greater oversight and control; requires Earned Value Management System (EVMS) reporting and utilizes cost and performance incentives both before and after launch. 

"This new Block II contract gives the Air Force the flexibility to independently exercise options for long-lead materials, production, and launch services for WGS F4 through F6," said U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Adam Mortensen, the WGS Block II Program Manager. "One WGS satellite will provide more throughput than the entire DSCS constellation currently on station, which translates to improved effectiveness of our worldwide forces and ultimately, into lives saved." 

In February of this year, the Air Force authorized Boeing via letter contract to begin non-recurring engineering and advanced procurement of parts for WGS F4. The program office anticipates proceeding with full production of WGS F4 and the start of long-lead work for F5, by the end of 2006. 

The WGS satellites are 13-kilowatt spacecraft based upon Boeing's 702 satellite bus and are designed to provide improved communications support for America's warfighters. "We have designed an incredibly capable satellite with tremendous operational flexibility," said Charles Toups, Vice President of Navigation and Communications System for Boeing Space & Intelligence Systems. "We are very pleased the Air Force has chosen Boeing to fulfill this critical communications need." 

Boeing is working to have the first WGS satellite ready for launch in 2007. The Block II contract calls for the launch of F4 by the first quarter of 2011, if the remaining spacecraft procurement options are exercised, subsequent launches will occur in 2012 and 2013. 

The Block II satellites provide bandwidth urgently needed by the warfighters. WGS will augment and eventually replace the aging Defense Satellite Communication System currently on station.