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British defense ministry, Airbus finalize $628.5M contract for Skynet upgrade

Written by  Tuesday, 21 July 2020 06:09
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Washington DC (UPI) Jul 20, 2020
Britain's Ministry of Defense finalized a contract for a new Skynet military satellite in a $628.5 million deal with Airbus Defense and Space. The contract, signed on Sunday, calls for launch and ground support of the latest Skynet 6A telecommunications satellite, which is regarded as an improvement of military communications capability - and is an update to the current Skynet 5 system

Britain's Ministry of Defense finalized a contract for a new Skynet military satellite in a $628.5 million deal with Airbus Defense and Space.

The contract, signed on Sunday, calls for launch and ground support of the latest Skynet 6A telecommunications satellite, which is regarded as an improvement of military communications capability -- and is an update to the current Skynet 5 system, Airbus said in a press release.

A new generation of communications spacecraft, a $7.5 billion upgrade, is expected at the end of the decade, the Ministry said in a statement.

The deal has been in the works since 2017, when Airbus was chosen as a preferred supplier and received a preliminary contract for the new system. The satellite will be developed and assembled in Britain, with a planned launch date of 2025.

Skynet is a family of military communications satellites used by the British Armed Forces and NATO forces engaged in coalition missions. The contract supplements a constellation of existing Airbus-built spacecraft known as the Skynet 5 space telecommunications network.

The eventual successor to the system is expected to serve until at least 2040, British defense officials said.

The "newest contested frontier is space and so we need to provide resilience and better communications for our forces," said British Defense Minister Ben Wallace.

"Skynet 6A is one of many solutions we shall be investing in over the next decade. This government recognizes the urgent need to defend and promote space capabilities. British defense must continue to innovate and transform, particularly in cyber and space," Wallace said.


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