MoD looks to the stars with Skynet extension

News 10 Mar, 2010

With the introduction of Skynet 5D, the MoD is looking to increase its satellite communication use.

The Ministry of Defence (MoD) is looking to ramp up its communications with the introduction of a new military satellite – the Skynet 5D.

It will be launched in 2013 at a cost of £400 million to play a central role in gathering intelligence for the MoD’s operations, but will also provide telephone and internet welfare support for soldiers.

The satellite will be the fourth in the £3.6 billion Skynet constellation run by Paradigm, a commercial provider of military-grade satellite communications.

Size appears to matter in the case of the Skynet 5D - which is three times the length of a double decker bus - and its construction will directly create around 100 new jobs.

Paradigm signed the contract with the MoD in 2003 and the initiative will provide mobile voice, video, internet and broadcast communications for the UK armed forces until at least 2022.

“Skynet 5D demonstrates the success of this programme from both an industrial and military perspective, enabling us to consolidate the service delivery to UK MOD and also to expand the communication capabilities we can offer on a worldwide basis,” commented Malcolm Peto, director of Paradigm.

The increased use of satellites is evidently on the MoD’s agenda. “The demand for satellite communications is growing faster than originally predicted,” said Darrell Midgley, MoD defence equipment and support, information systems and services networks head.

Read on for more about the UK's space programme.