WASHINGTON — The U.S. Air Force  on July 23  launched  the seventh of its Wideband Global Satcom (WGS) satellites from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida, aboard a United Launch Alliance Delta 4 rocket.

The WGS satellites, built by Boeing Network & Space Systems of El Segundo, California, are the backbone of the Air Force’s communications fleet that provides services in the X- and Ka-bands. Seven of a planned 10 satellites are now in orbit.

“The WGS constellation continues to provide significant added capacity to our DoD space communications architecture.”  Lt. Gen. Samuel Greaves, commander of the Air Force’s Space and Missile Systems Center, said in a July 23 press release. “WGS delivers crucial wideband communication to soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines, and international partners around the globe.”

The launch marked the fifth WGS launch aboard a Delta 4 and the second successful Air Force launch in eight days. An Air Force GPS 2F satellite launched from Cape Canaveral July 15 aboard a ULA Atlas 5.

WGS-7 and its Delta 4 rocket lifted off at 8:07 p.m Eastern and 40 minutes later the satellite separated. ULA confirmed a successful launch at 9:02 p.m.

The satellite is expected to be declared operational after several months of testing. WGS-7 is the first in a group of spacecraft known as the WGS Block 2 follow-on satellites.

WGS-8, which is expected to double payload bandwidth and improve connectivity, is notionally slated to launch in 2016.

Mike Gruss covers military space issues, including the U.S. Air Force and Missile Defense Agency, for SpaceNews. He is a graduate of Miami University in Oxford, Ohio.