Spy in the sky goes large

Posted on 11 Mar 2010 by The Manufacturer

Communications on military operations are to be enhanced thanks to a £400m contract to use a new satellite, the Minister for Defence Equipment and Support has announced.

The Skynet 5D, which is the fourth satellite of its kind to be used by the MoD, is roughly three times the length of a double decker bus and will be launched in 2013 — playing a key role in gathering intelligence on operations. The satellite will also be used to provide the telephone and internet welfare support facilities for Service personnel on operations.

Minister for Defence Equipment and Support, Quentin Davies, said: “Future operations require that our Armed Forces are given access to the best possible communications and this new satellite will go a long way to ensuring this. This value for money package not only builds upon a tried and tested capability for the Armed Forces, but also secures hundreds of jobs in a very important field of technology.”

The build of Skynet 5D will directly create around 100 new jobs, mainly at EADS Astrium’s sites in Portsmouth and Stevenage. It will also sustain approximately 800 jobs at these sites and in Corsham, Wiltshire, at Paradigm’s Hawthorn site.

Lord Drayson, Minister for Science and Innovation, said: “The UK’s thriving space and satellite industry has been a real recession-buster – creating jobs and achieving exceptional growth. This latest success cements the UK’s position as a world leader in satellite technology, with the sector forecast to be worth £40Bn to the UK by 2030.”

Darrell Midgley, MOD Defence Equipment and Support, Information Systems and Services Networks Head, added: “The demand for satellite communications is growing faster than originally predicted. To ensure that future operations will continue to have access to the vital communications they may need, the MOD has decided to make arrangements to take advantage of the services that a fourth satellite in the Paradigm’s Skynet constellation would