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Companies bidding in Skynet Enduring Capability programme revealed

The SKEC WSS capability will eventually replace the MoD's existing satcom fleet, such as Skynet 5 (pictured). (Paradigm Secure Communications)

Companies bidding in the UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) Skynet Enduring Capability (SKEC) Wideband Satellite System (WSS) programme have been revealed.

The MoD disclosed on 4 August that Airbus Defence and Space, Lockheed Martin, and Thales Alenia Space are bidding for the programme and have been downselected for the next phase of the competition.

The three companies are now eligible to receive the WSS preliminary qualification questionnaire (PQQ) following successful pre-PQQ submissions, the MoD added.

SKEC seeks to deliver the next era of satellite communications (satcom) to the MoD. The SKEC WSS procurement programme is an element of this, which involves the design, manufacture, and delivery of up to three wideband geostationary orbit (GEO) satellite systems, associated ground equipment, and launch operations. The satellites will slowly replace the MoD's existing Skynet fleet from 2028 to 2036.

The SKEC WSS satellites will comprise X- and Mil-Ka-band payloads as well as ultra-high frequency (UHF) communication systems. A Secure Telemetry, Tracking, and Command (STT&C) capability operating in X-, Mil-Ka-, and S-bands is required, along with intersatellite communication links that enable payload traffic and STT&C transmissions. The satellites must have a minimum life expectancy of 15 years.

In addition to the satellites, the preferred vendor will be required to design and manufacture the ‘WS Ground System' including satellite and payload monitoring and control systems; ground components of the STT&C system including key management; simulators for training and mission rehearsal purposes; and the provision of post design support (PDS) for the entire WSS life.

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