15 Feb 23. Babcock has been awarded a six-year contract to manage and operate Skynet, the MOD’s military satellite.
£400m contract to operate military satellite communications system supports 400 UK jobs
- Babcock awarded the contract to operate Skynet – the UK’s military satellite communications system.
- Expected to support 400 jobs in south-west England.
- The contract forms part of the MOD’s £6bn Skynet 6 Programme.
As part of the £400m Skynet Service Delivery Wrap (SDW) contract, Babcock and their partners will operate and manage the UK MOD’s constellation of military satellites, ground stations and integrate new user terminals.
Skynet operations deliver information to UK and allied forces around the world, enabling a battlefield information advantage anywhere, anytime.
Delivering on the Prime Minister’s priority to grow the economy, creating better-paid jobs and opportunity right across the country, this contract is expected to support around 400 UK jobs in Corsham, Bristol and Plymouth. Those benefiting will include engineers, scientists, space technicians and administrative staff. Their work will ensure that our deployed forces have a world-leading capability to communicate back to the UK, whether on the battlefield, onboard a ship or in the air.
The SDW contract is part of the wider satellite communications SKYNET 6 programme which will provide space-based communications to 2041 and beyond, with an overall government investment of £6 billion.
Defence Procurement Minister Alex Chalk KC said: “Space is increasingly important for maintaining battlefield advantage. The UK’s next generation military satellite communications system will keep us at the forefront of this critical domain and the work under this contract will bolster our resilience for years to come. Providing low risk, uninterrupted services necessary to support the current Skynet 5 infrastructure, the partnership will also support the successful transition of services for future Skynet operations.
David Lockwood, Chief Executive Officer for Babcock, said: “We are delighted to have been chosen to support this world-leading technological safeguard. Skynet enables vital communications to the UK Armed Forces wherever they are, helping to keep them safe.”
In addition to the SDW contract, the Skynet 6 programme will deliver:
- Skynet 6A, which comprises manufacturing and launch of the Skynet 6A satellite and is being delivered by Airbus Defence and Space UK;
- Skynet Enduring Capability, which will deliver new space-based technology from 2028 onwards;
- The provision of new ground and user terminal capabilities to ensure that UK war fighters have modern communications technology worldwide; and
- A longer-term innovative approach for delivering space-based communications capability to follow on from the SDW contract.
Babcock awarded contract to operate Skynet – the UK Ministry of Defence’s military satellite communications system
Babcock International Group Plc (“Babcock”), the defence company, is pleased to announce it has been awarded the contract to manage and operate Skynet, the UK Ministry of Defence’s (MOD) military satellite communications system.
The six-year contract, commencing in March 2023, has an initial value of more than £400 million and forms part of the MOD’s £6 billion Skynet 6 programme, sustaining more than 400 jobs in the south-west of the UK.
Skynet Service Delivery Wrap (“Skynet SDW”) will encompass the operation of the UK’s constellation of military satellites and ground stations, including the integration of terminals into the MOD network, ensuring they are integrated and supported.
Babcock will partner with SES, GovSat and Intelsat on Skynet SDW.
David Lockwood, CEO for Babcock, said: “We are delighted to have been chosen to support this world-leading technological safeguard. Skynet enables vital communications to the UK Armed Forces wherever they are, helping to keep them safe. Babcock is a world leader in secure communications for the military. Together with our partners, we will provide a high-tech solution which combines the availability, affordability and capability that the UK needs.”
The contract includes the services necessary to support the current Skynet infrastructure, as well as the successful transition and continuous delivery of service for future Skynet operations.
Babcock and its partners bring the stability, knowledge, and pedigree of a proven service provider with the leading commercial and military satellite operators to utilise the best-in-class solutions the industry has to offer. Backed by its unique, collective international experience across defence and satcom operations, the partnership will provide a low risk, uninterrupted service which brings an assured end-to-end approach for the MOD.
Its one-team ethos integrates the customer, partners, and supply chain to deliver an adaptable, agile and supportable service delivery solution.
Babcock is an international defence company, operating in our focus countries of the UK, Australasia, Canada, France and South Africa, with exports to additional markets. We support and enhance our customers’ defence capabilities and critical assets through a range of product and service solutions, providing increased availability, affordability and capability.
As the foundational architects of satellite technology, Intelsat operates the world’s most trusted satellite telecom network. We apply our unparalleled expertise and global scale to connect people, businesses, and communities, no matter how difficult the challenge. Intelsat is building the future of global communications with the world’s first hybrid, multi-orbit, software-defined 5G network designed for simple, seamless, and secure coverage precisely when and where our customers most need it. Follow the leader in global connectivity and “Imagine Here,” with us, at Intelsat.com.
GovSat is a Luxembourg-based satellite operator, created out of a partnership between the Luxembourg government and SES, the world’s leader in global content connectivity solutions. Its mission is to provide secure, reliable and accessible governmental satellite communication services to address the demand resulting from defence and institutional security applications. The company’s first satellite, GovSat-1, is a multi-mission satellite that uses X-band and Military Ka-band frequencies on high-power and fully steerable mission beams to support multiple operations. It is equipped with anti-jamming features, encrypted telemetry and control, and uses assured frequencies. Due to its orbital position at 21.5° East, GovSat-1’s coverage reaches from 50°W to 90°E and 70°N to 70°S. Further information is available here: www.govsat.lu
SES has a bold vision to deliver amazing experiences everywhere on earth by distributing the highest quality video content and providing seamless connectivity around the world. As the leader in global content connectivity solutions, SES operates the world’s only multi-orbit constellation of satellites with the unique combination of global coverage and high performance, including the commercially-proven, low-latency Medium Earth Orbit O3b system. By leveraging a vast and intelligent, cloud-enabled network, SES is able to deliver high-quality connectivity solutions anywhere on land, at sea or in the air, and is a trusted partner to the world’s leading telecommunications companies, mobile network operators, governments, connectivity and cloud service providers, broadcasters, video platform operators and content owners. SES’s video network carries around 8,000 channels and has an unparalleled reach of 366 million households, delivering managed media services for both linear and non-linear content. The company is listed on Paris and Luxembourg stock exchanges (Ticker: SESG). Further information is available at: www.ses.com
BATTLESPACE Comment: For some time the fact that Airbus had lost out on the SDW contract was becoming clear. However, observers saw the Serco bid as having a degree of success given the incumbent workforce, Babcock was seen as an outsider, although it is believed to have won on a very competitive bid. Two weeks ago rumours abounded that Babcock had clinched the contract, the award of which comes hard on the heels of its renewal of the 5 year DSG land systems management contract. 11 Nov 22. Close call for Skynet 6 SDW award between the BT and Seco Teams. In November we said, Sources close to BATTLESPACE suggest that the recommendation for the Skynet 6 Service Delivery Wrap Award (SDW) is with the Minister and will be announced in January. The extension of the current Airbus contract appeared to put Airbus on notice that they would not be chosen for the new award. The award is believed to be a close-run contest between the Seco and BT led teams. (See: BATTLESPACE UPDATE Vol.24 ISSUE 46, 14 November 2022, SATELLITE SYSTEMS, SATCOM AND SPACE SYSTEMS UPDATE)
Serco is believed to have put in a very competitive bid and has the advantage that the company currently employs the existing workforce who easily transition to the new contract. The Serco led consortium comprises global defence and aerospace company Lockheed Martin, global IT specialist CGI and UK satellite operator Inmarsat, the world leader in global, mobile satellite communications, supported by a number of other highly skilled providers from across the domain, including Hereford based Spectra, the satcom communications specialist. Serco and Lockheed Martin have worked together on a number of UK defence programmes over many years, whilst Serco, CGI and Inmarsat have worked closely together on the current Skynet 5 service from the start of its delivery. All the partners have a strong UK presence and track record with the UK MOD and wider space sector. The strength of the BT Team should not be overlooked. BT employed formed MoD comms supremo John Cole to lead the bid so his presence on the team could be crucial. BT, NSSLGlobal and Viasat partnered to bid for the Service Delivery Wrap (SDW) contract for the UK’s Skynet 6 Satellite Communications (SATCOM) programme. The group said it can provide the Ministry of Defence (MOD) ‘fully managed best-in-class SATCOM solutions.’ The SDW competition was initiated by the UK in late 2019 in support of the wider Skynet 6 SATCOM programme. The programme will consist of a five-year contract to support Skynet 6 and will replace the existing Skynet 5 contract which will deliver SATCOM services to the MOD up until August 2022. Watch this space for the award in January!