The 45th Space Wing successfully launched the eighth Wideband Global SATCOM communications satellite into orbit from Cape Canaveral AFS, Fla., Wednesday evening. A United Launch Alliance Delta IV rocket launched the satellite, according to the Air Force. Built by Boeing, WGS-8 “will provide nearly twice as much communications bandwidth as previous WGS satellites due to an upgraded digital payload,” according to a company statement. The Air Force has contracted with Boeing for a total of 10 WGS vehicles, and the ninth, “funded through an international partnership between the United States and Canada, Denmark, Luxembourg, The Netherlands, and New Zealand,” is expected to launch in early 2017. The seventh satellite in the constellation launched in July 2015.
The Air Force overall reduced its size by 120 aircraft in fiscal year 2021, but kept about the same number of fighter, bomber and attack aircraft, according to data supplied by the service. The F-35 fleet saw the biggest increase while the B-1B bomber fleet saw the largest decline.