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Canada pitches in $340-M for U.S. defence satellite

The Canadian government contributed $340 million to the development of a United States military satellite which was launched on Saturday at Cape Canaveral Fla.

Canada’s contribution to the Boeing 9th Wideband Global Satellite Communications (WGS-9) constellation satellite represents “the largest financial contribution of the five project partner nations,” according to a press release from the Department of National Defence.

The WGS-9 satellite was funded through an agreement between the United States and Canada, Denmark, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and New Zealand, and will also serve Australia (which funded the WGS-6 satellite). Each partner country gains access to the capabilities provided by the full WGS system, which include flexible and secure communication transmissions in the X- and Ka-band frequencies, according to Boeing.

The Boeing video below demonstrates the WGS’s anti-jam capabilities.

Canada’s participation was made under the DND’s Mercury Global Project, which leverages the capabilities of eight other WGS satellites already in orbit.

The constellation of WGS satellites increases the communications capabilities of the militaries of the United States and Canada by providing additional bandwidth and communications capabilities for use in tactical command and control, communications, and computers; intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (C4ISR); battle management; and combat support information.

“Military operations are increasingly dependent on capabilities based in space,” said Brig. Gen.Blaise Frawley, director of general space of Royal Canadian Air Force. }The WGS-9 will further enhance a reliable Satcom network and ensure our forces can communicate effectively to enable success on operations.”

The Mercury Global project will access its full allotted bandwidth from the WGS constellation through anchor stations in Shirleys Bay, Ottawa, Ontario; Great Village, Nova Scotia; and CFB Esquimalt, British Columbia — all of which are home to the antennas and associated ground infrastructure.

Canada has allocated $452 million to the Mercury Global Project. This includes the contribution to the ninth satellite acquisition, WGS constellation support, large-scale antennas at three sites in Canada, and strategic deployable terminals. Sharing costs with international partners and allies is a more cost-effective option than building and maintaining a uniquely Canadian satellite system.

The ability to exchange large amounts of information between headquarters and deployed forces has become critical to modern military operations. This has been demonstrated in support of NATO missions like Op Reassurance in Europe and coalition operations such as Op IMPACT in the Middle East. The Mercury Global project is an effective way of meeting the CAF’s communication requirements for domestic and expeditionary operations.

The WGS-9 launched on a United Launch Alliance Delta IV rocket. Boeing is on contract for 10 WGS satellites, the last of which is tentatively scheduled for launch in 2018.

“This unique international collaboration increases military interoperability and expands affordable high-data-rate communications for U.S. and allied partners around the globe,” said Rico Attanasio, executive director, Boeing Department of Defense/Civil Satellite Programs.

“Undertaking and implementing solutions like the successful launch of the WGS-9 satellite by our American allies will support successful execution of CAF operations today and into the future,” Defence Ministers Harjit Sajjan. “Canada’s contribution to this effort provides essential communications support for Canadian Armed Forces operations around the world. Investing in innovative solutions like the Mercury Global Project will keep the Canadian Armed Forces on the leading edge of defence capabilities, while further enhancing relationships with our international partners and allies.”

Author: Nestor Arellano

Nestor Arellano is editor of Vanguard Magazine. Nestor is a seasoned journalist who has written extensively on defence and military industry issues as well as technology and business developments. He is also associate editor of Vanguard's sister publication, IT in Canada.

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