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Global MilSatcom 2022: UK seeks up to three wideband satellites for Skynet

The winner of the UK's Skynet satcom SDW contract will assume responsibility for managing the Skynet 5 satellites and the ground communications networks. (Airbus Defence & Space)

Up to three wideband satellites will be acquired under the Skynet programme, and the Skynet Service Delivery Wrap (SDW) project will commence in 2023, according to UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) officials.

Under the umbrella of the Skynet Enduring Capability (SKEC) programme, the MoD intends to acquire up to three wideband satellites, which will be introduced in the late 2020s, Peter Lymn, UK MoD project manager for Skynet Integrated Enterprise Solution, said at the Global MilSatcom 2022 conference and exhibition held in London from 8 to 10 November.

A competition for the satellites is expected in the middle of 2023, Lymn added.

In August, it was announced that the MoD was seeking to acquire multiple medium-sized Wideband Satellite Systems (WSS) with X- and Mil Ka-band payloads for the SKEC space segment.

As part of the SKEC space segment, the MoD is also planning to acquire an ultra-high frequency (UHF) geosynchronous (GEO) Narrowband Satellite System (NSS). A competition is under way, with invitations to negotiate expected to be sent out to industry in January 2023, Lymn added.

It was also announced that, following a 12-month transition period with the preferred bidders, the Skynet SDW programme would officially go live in March 2024. The contract is in the final stages of approval, Lymn said.

The SDW programme is seeking a provider(s) to operate and manage the Skynet spacecraft, ground control facilities, and networks while also modernising any end-of-life or obsolete ground assets in addition to introducing novel technologies. The contract was initially intended to span from 2022 to 2028.

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