Initial Operational Capability (IOC):
Also Known As: Skynet 5A, Skynet 5B and Skynet V
Origin: United Kingdom
EADS Astrium, LogicaCMG, Paradigm* and Serco (*) lead contractor
Parent System: Skynet 5
Initial Operational Capability (IOC): 2005
Total Production: 4
Total Cost: USD$4.0 billion
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Description: The Skynet 5 satellite constellation is being designed to provide secure and reliable communications to the British Armed Forces. It will replace current Skynet 4 satellite constellation beginning in 2005. Skynet 5 should be operational beginning in 2005 until 2018. Two 2.5/3 tons satellites will be manufactured under this program. In early 2005, the in-service date was delayed to 2006.
The Paradigm Consortium, wholly owned by EADS, was awarded a £2.5 billion contract in 2003 for Skynet 5 development and full service life related services. Under Skynet 5 Private Finance Initiative (PFI), the company took over operations of the entire UK MOD satellite communications network in May 2003.
On September 9, 2004, Paradigm Secure Communications Limited signed a contract to deliver secure satellite communications services to the Portuguese Chief of Defense. These services are planned to be performed using UK MoD's Skynet satellite communications network.
EADS Astrium selected Arianespace's Ariane 5 launch system to put into orbit Skynet 5A and Skynet 5B satellites after an extensive competition among major launch service providers. The contract was signed in December 2004 and included an option on a further satellite launch. Skynet 5A launch was scheduled for summer of 2006 and 5B in mid-2007.
The UK MoD announced that the Skynet PFI program entered service, March 21, 2005, with the satellites launches expected later in this decade. Approximately 1,900 people will be employed across the UK and the MoD will save around £100 million compared to conventional acquisition programs. Skynet 5 will provide communications capacity 2.5 times greater than existing systems until 2018, when the program will expire.
In December 2005 the UK MoD approved a third Skynet 5 satellite, named Skynet 5C, providing back-up for the entire system. Skynet 5C was scheduled for launch at the end of 2008 extending the service life of the Skynet 5 constellation through 2020, two years more than early plans.
In early September 2006 the Netherlands Ministry of Defense signed a data transfer based multi-year contract with Paradigm Secure Communications Ltd. getting access to Skynet 4 and Skynet 5 satellite communications networks.
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