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Airbus Tapped to Build All-Electric UK MOD Skynet Satellite

By | July 20, 2020
Skynet 5A UK MOD Terminal

UK MOD’s recent Skynet 5A satellite, to be followed by Skynet 6A. Photo: Astrium

The UK Ministry of Defense (MOD) awarded a contract to Airbus Defense and Space worth more than £500 million ($632 million USD) to upgrade the capability of the Skynet military communications satellite fleet, and build a new, all-electric satellite, Skynet 6A.

Airbus will support technology development and provide both space and ground systems updates, including new secure telemetry, tracking and command capabilities to the current Skynet 5 system. Airbus has helped the UK MOD manage the Skynet 5 program since it began global secure military communications service operations in 2003.

The all-electric Skynet 6A satellite will be built based on the Eurostar Neo platform and tested by UK’s national RAL Space laboratory. The UK MOD hopes to launch the satellite in 2025.

“A new, more advanced satellite capability will provide continued communications support to the UK deployed forces for many years,” UK Defense Secretary Ben Wallace said in a statement. “British Defense must continue to innovate and transform, particularly in cyber and space. Investment in first-class equipment like this new Skynet satellite will keep us safe from the threats we face both now and in the future.”