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UK seeks vendors for Skynet programme

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

The UK Ministry of Defence's (MoD's) Skynet Enduring Capability (SKEC) team is inviting industry to respond to a “pre-pre-qualification questionnaire” (Pre-PQQ) for the SKEC Wideband Satellite System (WSS), Defence Procurement announced on 5 June.

The Pre-PQQ is intended to confirm applicants' nationality and ‘facility security clearance' (FSC) status – a stipulated requirement that companies must obtain to handle classified information.

A deadline has been set for 28 Juneto respond to the Pre-PQQ.

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) broadcast communication systems. A Secure Telemetry, Tracking, and Command (STT&C) capability operating in X-, Mil-Ka-, and S-bands is required, along with inter-satellite communication links that enable payload traffic and STT&C transmissions. The satellites must have a minimum life expectancy of 15 years, according to the Pre-PQQ.

In addition to the satellites, the preferred bidder will be required to design and manufacture the ‘Wideband Satellite (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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