LONDON --- The first element of a new British military satellite communications capability to replace the current Skynet 5 network has been awarded to Airbus Defence and Space without a competition.
Negotiations to complete the deal to supply the Skynet 6A satellite are ongoing, but the British Ministry of Defence said it opted for the noncompetitive route with Airbus, in part, to maintain domestic space capabilities.
“The MoD intends to award Airbus Defence and Space the single source contract for the manufacture, assembly, integration, test and launch of a Skynet 6A geostationary military communications satellite. This will secure delivery of a sovereign and secure capability for the U.K.,” said a department spokesman.
The ability of Airbus to meet the required delivery timeline for Skynet 6A also influenced the decision, said officials here.
The new spacecraft is being acquired to fill a potential capacity gap as early satellites in the U.K. military’s Skynet 5 constellation approach the end of their useful lives ahead of a new generation of communications capabilities becoming available around the end of the next decade.
The new satellite is expected to be operational by mid-2025.
A spokesman for Airbus in the U.K. said the company is “not going to comment on the award at this stage.” (end of excerpt)
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