Newly launched satellite will enhance space capabilities
Canada contributed $340 million to the development of the ninth Wideband Global Satellite-9 program (WGS-9), which will improve future strategic satellite communications.
Canada’s participation is under the Department of National Defence (DND) Mercury Global Project, currently being implemented by the Assistant Deputy Minister (Information Management), which leverages the capabilities of eight other WGS satellites already in orbit.
Representatives from the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) and DND were on hand at Cape Canaveral, Florida, in early spring to witness the launch of the WGS-9 constellation satellite.
The satellite will aid in meeting the CAF strategic satellite communications (Satcom) requirements for many years into the future.
“Military operations are increasingly dependent on capabilities based in space,” said Brigadier-General Blaise Frawley, the Director General Space at the 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 ultimately access its full allotted bandwidth from the WGS constellation through anchor stations in Shirleys Bay, Ottawa; Great Village, N.S.; and CFB Esquimalt, B.C.—all of which are home to the antennas and associated ground infrastructure.
Canada gained access to the WGS constellation in May 2013 and has used this capability to support the communications needs of several missions around the world.
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 such Operation REASSURANCE in Europe and Op IMPACT in the Middle East.
In total, Canada has allocated $452 million to the Mercury Global Project, including the contribution to the ninth satellite acquisition, WGS constellation support, large-scale antennas, 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.
Besides the U.S., which owns and launched the satellite, other international partners include Denmark, Luxembourg, New Zealand, and the Netherlands.
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