WGS-5, the Air Force’s fifth Wideband Global Satellite Communications spacecraft, is now operating on-orbit as part of the WGS constellation, providing the US military and international partners with additional access to fast, secure communications, announced Boeing, the satellite’s manufacturer on Wednesday. “WGS-5 addresses a critical need of the Defense Department by increasing capacity and enhancing global coverage, supporting warfighters with communications bandwidth when they need it,” said Craig Cooning, vice president of Boeing Space and Intelligence Systems, in the company’s Oct. 2 release. WGS-5 reached space in late May; the Air Force and Boeing then conducted on-orbit testing of it before turning it over to the unit that will control it over its operational service life. WGS-5 is the second Block II spacecraft in the WGS series after WGS-4 and the three less-capable WGS Block I satellites. The next spacecraft in the series, WGS-6, has been on orbit since early August and is undergoing testing.
The U.S. supports “a stronger and more capable” European defense, Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III said during an Oct. 22 press conference in Brussels—but that defense should not duplicate the functions and capabilities of the NATO alliance.