Spaceflight Now: Breaking News

Boeing wins potential $1.3B for six military satellites
Posted: January 4, 2001

  Wideband Gapfiller Satellite
An artist's concept of a Wideband Gapfiller Satellite in orbit. Photo: Boeing
Boeing has been picked to led the charge in developing the U.S. military's next-generation Wideband Gapfiller Satellite communications network, which could lead to the company building as many as six spacecraft for the system.

An initial contract worth $160.3 million was awarded to an industry team led by Boeing. The potential value could grow to $1.3 billion if the joint-service program -- funded by the Air Force and Army -- approves plans to build the half-dozen Boeing 702-model satellites and associated equipment.

Envisioned as an evolutionary bridge from today's military communications infrastructure to the planned systems of the future, the Wideband Gapfiller Satellite program will provide a high-capacity satellite communications system to support the warfighter. It is supposed to feature newer and far greater capabilities than provided by current systems.

Today, the Pentagon relies on the Defense Satellite Communications System, which provides Super High Frequency wideband communications, and by the Global Broadcast Service, which uses direct broadcast satellite technology to provide critical information to U.S. and allied forces.

The gapfiller program could launch its first satellite as early as 2004 aboard a Boeing Delta 4 rocket, some four years before the futuristic Advanced Wideband Satellite system flies to support a high-capacity tactical communications network.

"We're proud of this contract award and equally proud to be part of a team of satellite communications industry leaders whose commercial and government experience spans all the key needs of the WGS system," said Tig H. Krekel, president of Boeing Satellite Systems.

"Based on the capabilities of this team, we are able to offer the DoD a tremendously flexible solution that leverages vast expertise in commercial and military satellite communications technology."

The Boeing 702 spacecraft model is the largest and most powerful commercial satellite in the world. It uses state-of-the-art technologies in propulsion, power generation and thermal control. BSS has launched three Boeing 702 satellites in the last 12 months and has eight other commercial 702s on order.

Boeing's Wideband Gapfiller Satellite program team also includes Harris Corp., ITT Industries, Logicon and SAIC.