Lift-off for £2.5 billion military satellite project

Defence Procurement Minister, Lord Bach, recently approved a £2.5 billion agreement to provide Britain’s Armed Forces with Skynet 5, a new strategic satellite communications system.

The British-based Paradigm consortium has been awarded a Private Finance Initiative (PFI) contract for the satellite programme, which is expected to create or sustain about 1,900 jobs across the UK.

‘Satellite communications are crucially important on the battlefield; they give our troops, their commanders and UK headquarters access to information across robust links,’ said Lord Bach.

‘This project remains on target to achieve initial provision of new services from 2005, is within budget and promises to deliver exactly the kind of flexibility and responsiveness the Armed Forces want,’ added Lord Bach.

According to the MoD, Skynet 5 will provide satellite communications (Satcom) services to the Army, RAF and Royal Navy to meet expected high capacity strategic communications traffic growth from 2005 to 2018. The project provides delivery of information services between the UK’s Defence Fixed Network and in-theatre networks and users.

Skynet 5 will use at least two new military satellites, which will take over orbital locations currently used by the Skynet 4 constellation, as it reaches the end of its useful life.