The Air Force awarded Boeing a $111 million contract to modify a component of the eighth and ninth Wideband Global Satellite Communications spacecraft to nearly double their communications bandwidth, announced service space acquisition officials. Under the terms of the contract, Boeing will supply an enhanced payload channelizer with a new integrated circuits that will provide “a 90 percent improvement in satellite bandwidth,” states the Air Force’s July 6 release. This upgrade will be resident on “all future WGS satellites,” according to the release. The modification is possible “without additional cost to the government” due to the “several hundred million dollars” that the Air Force has saved via the commercial-like operating model it has with Boeing for the acquisition of WGS-7, WGS-8, and WGS-9, states the release. The first three WGS satellites are operational on orbit. WGS-4 reached space in January; the Air Force is readying it to assume operations. WGS-5 through WGS-9 are currently in production. WGS-5 and WGS-6 are scheduled for launch in 2013, states the release.
The F-35 Joint Program Office has officially announced plans to issue multiple sole-source contracts to Pratt & Whitney to upgrade the fighter’s F135 engine—a widely expected move after Pentagon officials indicated they would do so earlier this year instead of developing an entirely new engine.