Defence Secretary Ben Wallace has announced the first step towards upgrading the UK’s military satellite communications system, SKYNET.
The Defence Secretary announced the launch of a new competition to operate and maintain the UK’s next-generation military satellite communications system, SKYNET 6.
Speaking at the DSEi conference today, Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said:
“Fifty years ago Britain put its first satellite, SKYNET1, in space. Today we’re having to deal with increasing threats to satellite-based navigation and the need for robust communications has never been more vital.
That’s why we’re developing SKYNET6 which will give our forces unparalleled capacity to talk to each other in any hostile environment.”
According to an MoD news release:
“50 years on from the launch of the first SKYNET satellite (SKYNET 1A) in November 1969 and following the success of subsequent SKYNET programmes, the MOD is upgrading its military satellite system providing secure, long-range communications to the armed forces and UK allies.
This upgraded system could be used to facilitate the transmission of secure communications from a ship at sea, support Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) operations, allow fighter jet pilots to receive or upload operational data in real-time, or enable land forces to conduct missions in remote environments.
Satellite communication systems are vital to operating effectively in hostile environments in which secure communications are required or commercial communication systems may have been disabled or are insufficient.”
This contract, named SKYNET 6 Service Delivery Wrap (SDW), covers the operation of the UK’s constellation of satellites and ground stations, and the provision and management of ground terminal infrastructure, say the MoD.
Further contracts, covering other aspects of the SKYNET 6 programme, worth approximately £6bn, will be announced in the coming months.