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Ariane 5 Launches Britain’s Final Skynet 5 Communications Satellite

The British Military’s latest high-tech communications satellite has been successfully launched from Kourou in French Guiana, South America.

The Skynet 5C satellite will be capable of beaming communication signals between headquarters in the UK and British forces deployed around the world once initial testing is complete. Work is now beginning to correctly position the satellite in order to establish full operating capability.

Skynet 5C will be employed as an in-orbit reserve for Skynets 5A and 5B which were launched in 2007.

Baroness Taylor, Minister for Defence Equipment and Support said:

“This important milestone is yet more good news for our armed forces. The Skynet 5 constellation is a huge step forward in data capacity. With the successful commissioning of Skynets 5A and 5B, and now the launch of Skynet 5c, we have a very significant improvement in our global communications systems and the means of assuring it.

“This Private Finance Initiative deal is an excellent example of the MoD and Industry very successfully working together.”

With its world-beating antenna technology and far greater power and data rates, the Skynet 5 constellation provides a significant enhancement to operational capability for our forces.

It is also being used in the field of welfare services, to help provide free messages between service personnel on operations and their families and friends.

The satellite is the third of three to be launched under a Private Finance Initiative (PFI) programme worth over £3 billion. The Ministry of Defence is working in partnership with service providers Paradigm Secure Communications, and EADS-Astrium who built the satellite itself.


The launch of the Skynet 5C communications satellite took place on Thursday 12 June from Kourou in French Guiana, South America. Skynet 5C will act as the in-orbit reserve for Skynets 5A and 5B.

The MoD decided in late 2005 that having a third satellite as a back up in space represented better value for money than reliance on the volatile space insurance market to fund building of a replacement satellite, should there be a launch or in-orbit loss.

The Skynet programme will provide the armed forces with an unparalleled capability, in a field where fast and effective long haul communications are vital ingredients for the successful conduct of operations and welfare services.

The satellites were constructed and assembled in EADS factories in Stevenage and Portsmouth which together employ 350 people on the Skynet programme.

The UK space industry in total helps to support almost 70,000 jobs and is worth nearly £7bn annually through direct and indirect contributions. (ends)
Launch of British Military Satellite Makes It a Skynet Hat-Trick