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An agreement by Canada, Denmark, the Netherlands, Luxembourg and New Zealand to become subscribers to the Wideband Global Satcom (WGS) broadband communications network has prompted the U.S. Air Force to exercise an option for Boeing to build a ninth spacecraft.
With their $377 million contract, the five nations join Australia, which funded WGS-6 in 2008, as members of the Air Force WGS team.
WGS-9 is the third spacecraft in a follow-on contract series that relies on Block II technology. Block II is distinguished by its switchable radio-frequency bypass system, which enables transmission of airborne intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance imagery data at three times Block I rates. All of the spacecraft are derived from Boeing’s commercial 702 satellite bus.
The eighth and ninth spacecraft have a combined value of $673 million and are part of a $1.09 billion contract modification the Air Force announced last September.