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Babcock to Manage and Operate UK Skynet

A computer generated image of the Skynet 5D satellite in orbit [© Astrium via UK MoD]

Babcock has been awarded a six-year contract to manage and operate Skynet, the UK MoD’s military satellite communications system.

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Press Release, Whitehall, 15 February 2023: As part of the £400 million Skynet Service Delivery Wrap (SDW) contract, Babcock and their partners will operate and manage the UK MoD’s constellation of military satellites, ground stations and integrate new user terminals. Skynet operations deliver information to UK and allied forces around the world, enabling a battlefield information advantage anywhere, anytime.

Delivering on the Prime Minister’s priority to grow the economy, creating better-paid jobs and opportunity right across the country, this contract is expected to support around 400 UK jobs in Corsham, Bristol and Plymouth. Those benefiting will include engineers, scientists, space technicians and administrative staff. Their work will ensure that our deployed forces have a world-leading capability to communicate back to the UK, whether on the battlefield, onboard a ship or in the air.

The SDW contract is part of the wider satellite communications SKYNET 6 programme which will provide space-based communications to 2041 and beyond, with an overall government investment of £6 billion.

Defence Procurement Minister Alex Chalk KC said: “Space is increasingly important for maintaining battlefield advantage.

“The UK’s next generation military satellite communications system will keep us at the forefront of this critical domain and the work under this contract will bolster our resilience for years to come.

Providing low risk, uninterrupted services necessary to support the current Skynet 5 infrastructure, the partnership will also support the successful transition of services for future Skynet operations.

David Lockwood, Chief Executive Officer for Babcock, said: “We are delighted to have been chosen to support this world-leading technological safeguard. Skynet enables vital communications to the UK Armed Forces wherever they are, helping to keep them safe.”

Skynet 6A illustration [©Airbus]

In addition to the SDW contract, the Skynet 6 programme will deliver:

  • Skynet 6A, which comprises manufacturing and launch of the Skynet 6A satellite and is being delivered by Airbus Defence and Space UK;
  • Skynet Enduring Capability, which will deliver new space-based technology from 2028 onwards;
  • The provision of new ground and user terminal capabilities to ensure that UK war fighters have modern communications technology worldwide; and
  • A longer-term innovative approach for delivering space-based communications capability to follow on from the SDW contract.

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