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DSEI 2019: New Skynet 6 competition announced

11th September 2019 - 13:00 GMT | by The Shephard News Team in London

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A new competition for the Skynet 6 military satellite communications project was announced at DSEI 2019, seeking an an industry partner to operate and manage the ground stations, infrastructure and technology. 

This appears to be part of the contract timeline Shephard has previously reported on.

In his keynote address at DSEI, during which the Skynet 6 announcement was made, Ben Wallace, Secretary of State for Defence, also said that: ‘Today we’re having to deal with increased threats to satellite based navigation, so the need for robust satellite communications have never been more vital. That’s why we’re developing Skynet 6, which will give our forces unparalleled capacity to talk to each other in any hostile environment.’

The Skynet 6 programme is designed to replace Skynet 5, whose PFI contract with Paradigm Secure Communications and Airbus Defence and Space, previously EADS Astrium, ends in 2022. 

The panel discussion on 10 September in which Stuart Eves, consultant and director at SJE Space saw Eves argued that some of the most innovative satellite equipment is now being found in the commercial sector rather than the military

It is likely that taking the approach of PFI contracts will be a thing of the past, as the UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) is keen to establish a role for the military in the space sector.

Airbus Defence and Space will be building the Skynet 6A satellite, planned for launch in 2025 in a non-competitive contract awarded by the MoD in 2017, but 6A will probably not be setting the precedent for how contracts are awarded for the rest of the Skynet 6 programme.

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