The Air Force is looking into outsourcing the 24/7 on-orbit operations and maintenance of the Wideband Global SATCOM constellation, reported Space News. Air Force Space Command posted a request for information Sept. 9, seeking information from contractors about their ability to perform the operations, cost estimates, and possible operational timelines. The service aims to commercialize some satellite operations and move others to a new ground system, Space News reported. The WGS is the “backbone of the US military’s global satellite communications,” providing essential communication for combatant commanders and others in the military, the White House, the State Department, and international partners, according to an Air Force factsheet. The on-orbit WGS constellation has six satellites in geosynchronous orbit; the first was launched in October 2007. Right now, Boeing is the primary contractor for WGS.
Three B-1B Lancers from the 7th Bomb Wing flew over the Indo-Pacific alongside F-16s from the Japanese Air Self Defense Force recently, as part of a joint large force exercise. The mission began and ended in the continental U.S., as the bombers flew 31 hours and landed Jan. 11.