Stevenage, 27 October 2023 – Airbus has been awarded the Skynet Design Support Contract (SDSC) to provide Design Authority reach back for the UK’s SKYNET 5 and 6A military satellite communications systems.

The contract will provide post-design services to the Ministry of Defence (MOD) and its future service providers to support the transition from SKYNET 5, which was procured under a PFI arrangement that commenced in 2003, towards an MOD-owned contractor-operated system under SKYNET 6. This includes SKYNET 6A which Airbus is currently developing.

Steven Fisher, Director Delivery (Intelligence and Expeditionary Services) at the Ministry of Defence, 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 BuddHead of Secure Communications UK, US and Australia at Airbus Defence and Space, said: “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 Stevenage and Portsmouth facilities.”