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Airbus and Northrop Grumman partner for UK military satellite comms programme

23rd October 2023 - 08:05 GMT | by The Shephard News Team in London


The Skynet 6A satellite is currently being built in the UK town of Portsmouth by Airbus.

A new collaboration between the US and European aviation giants will attempt to unite the space interests of US, UK and European partners via the UK's SKYNET programme.

Airbus has signed an agreement with Northrop Grumman to develop a strategic partnership in military satellite communications for the UK’s future wideband SKYNET military satellite communications programme.

The European aviation and space giant confirmed that it had signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the US-based aerospace and defence company which will see the two firms collaborate on their knowledge and capability to address the UK Ministry of Defence’s (MoDs) military satellite communication requirements.

Airbus and Northrop Grumman claimed the partnership was ‘vitally important’ at a time when military forces have been increasingly using space-based assets. SKYNET, a family of military communications satellites operated for the UK’s MoD, provides strategic communication services to the UK Armed Forces and its allies, with SKYNET 5 the most recent generation of the family.

The companies will work together to overcome challenges related to users being continuously connected and attempt to tackle the increasing amount of data generated by communications systems ‘on the ground, in the air, at sea and in orbit’.

Ben Bridge, UK chairman of Airbus Defence and Space, said that the collaboration between the two firms would help to unite US, European and UK interests in space.

‘Partnering with Northrop Grumman will enable us to address the evolving requirements of Britain's military satellite communications’ needs, and we believe our joint expertise offers the very best capabilities for the UK, now and in the future,’ Bridge remarked.

Troy Brashear, vice-president for national security systems at Northrop Grumman Space Systems, added: ‘The team will provide our customers with innovative, reliable and affordable military satellite communications technology to meet the rapidly evolving requirements of today’s environment.’

Space programmes in full swing for Airbus and Northrop Grumman

Both Airbus and Northrop Grumman have been involved in a growing number of space-related activities throughout 2023. In August, Northrop Grumman delivered the major components ahead of pre-launch preparations for the Arctic Satellite Broadband Mission. In March, the company announced that it had refined the design of the Next-Generation Overhead Persistent Infrared Polar satellite being built for US Space Systems Command.

Airbus Defence and Space became a partner in the UK MoD’s Missile Defence Centre in January to offer its expertise on ballistic missile defence. The Syracuse 4B communications satellite, developed by Airbus and Thales Alenia Space, was launched in July 2023 to strengthen secure military satellite communications for the French Armed Forces.

Skynet 6 SATCOM

Skynet 5 SATCOM


The Shephard News Team


The Shephard News Team

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