Airbus Lands UK Military Comms Satellite Development Contract

Airbus’ defense and space business has received a sole-source contract from the U.K. defense ministry to develop, test and launch a military communications satellite, Defense News reported Monday.

The Skynet 6A geostationary spacecraft is expected to enter service by mid-2025 and is designed to replace U.K. military satellites in the Skynet 5 constellation that are near the end of their service life.

The defense ministry said the move to award the satellite development contract through the noncompetitive process seeks to keep domestic space capabilities.

The report noted that the Skynet 6A program consists of three elements and one of those is the construction of a stopgap satellite by Airbus.

Two of the three elements – a service delivery initiative to oversee ground operations from 2022 and a program to provide communications capability – would be up for competition.

Airbus developed four satellites for the Skynet 5 network that took off between 2007 and 2012 under the defense ministry’s 20-year, $4.7 billion private finance initiative to procure and operate the satellites and ground infrastructure.

The extended PFI deal is set to expire in 2022, the report added.

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