Airbus has been awarded a contract by the Ministry of Defence (MOD) to provide design authority services support for the UK’s SKYNET military satellite communications systems.

The Skynet Design Support Contract (SDSC) will provide post-design services to support the transition from SKYNET 5 to an MOD-owned, contractor-operated system under SKYNET 6. This includes SKYNET 6A, which Airbus is currently developing.

Steven Fisher, the MOD’s director delivery (intelligence and expeditionary services), said, “SDSC reflects our ongoing commitment to maintain the SKYNET 5 system that forms the backbone of UK military satellite communications.

“It also recognises Airbus as the design authority for SKYNET 5, alongside being a key strategic supplier of UK sovereign space capability in the form of SKYNET 6A, which is a vital first step in our programme to replace and replenish our space-based assets.”

Richard Budd, head of secure communications UK, US and Australia, Airbus Defence and Space, added, “The scope of SDSC – which runs from March 2024 for five years – includes both the satellites and the infrastructure on the ground.

“The contract supports the retention of specialist space and ground-segment roles and confirms Airbus’ ongoing involvement in the SKYNET programme, including the production of the SKYNET 6A satellite in our world-leading Stevenage and Portsmouth facilities.”

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