23 Sep 2019

Defence Secretary announces new competition to operate military communications system SKYNET 6

The Defence Secretary has announced a new competition to win the contract to operate and maintain SKYNET 6, the UK’s new military communications system.

Defence Secretary Ben Wallace announced in a speech at the DSEi conference that the MOD was investing in the new SKYNET 6 military communications satellite system. The competition will offer the opportunity to operate and maintain the new state-of-the-art satellite system.

The competition marks 50 years since the launch of SKYNET 1 and the military’s ongoing plans to upgrade systems and provide long-range secure communications. The new system will be used primarily for communicating with ships at sea, the operation of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles, as well as allowing land forces to conduct missions in remote environments, and allowing fighter jets to upload operational data in real-time.

President of Government Systems at Viasat, Ken Peterman said: “We are very encouraged by today’s Skynet 6 announcement as it further demonstrates the value of commercial satellite trajectories and the need for an ecosystem that will allow warfighters to use both commercial and MOD purpose-built capabilities as one seamless enterprise.”

Head of Networks at the MOD’s Information Systems and Service Organisation (ISS) Julian Knight said: “We are about to enter a vital phase of the SKYNET programme. This competition is a significant opportunity for industry to work at the very heart of our programme – delivering improved flight and ground operations.”

“We are seeking an innovative partner that will ensure effective and consistent Defence Satellite communications and will look to continually maximise performance and value for money.”

The SKYNET 6 Service Delivery Wrap (SDW) contract will include the operation of UK satellites and ground stations and the management of ground infrastructure. Viasat has emphasised the need for the MOD to modernise its systems, and the successful bidder will also negotiate MOD access to commercial satellite services and manage the UK’s contribution to systems owned and operated by allies.

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