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20 Dec 05. Following the signing of the extension to the Skynet 5 PFI contract by the UK MoD and Paradigm Secure Communications, EADS Astrium has been awarded a contract by Paradigm to supply a third Skynet 5 satellite, Skynet 5C, and critical items for a possible fourth, Skynet 5D.

The contract will also include an extension to the ground control system to support Skynet 5C after launch.

Since the original Skynet 5 contract was signed in October 2003, EADS
Astrium has progressed on schedule with the design and manufacture of the Skynet 5A and B satellites. Skynet 5A, following construction in the UK, is already in final assembly in EADS Astrium’s facility in Toulouse and will be fully tested over the next few months. The Skynet 5B communications and service modules will be delivered to Toulouse from the UK in the next two months for final integration. To date, all payload equipment, antennas and processors have been delivered on time and to schedule.

Skynet 5A, B and C will be launched in 2006, 2007 and 2008 respectively.

On the Skynet 5 ground segment, all deliveries and upgrades of the SCOT shipborne communications equipment have been completed to schedule. In addition, the Television over Military Satellite (TOMS) system has been installed on many Royal Navy ships and the Media Backlink system, which enables broadcast quality pictures to be beamed from RN ships via the Skynet satellites, has already been successfully trialled and utilised – with
several live interviews shown on national and international television.

Significant progress has also been achieved on the land equipment with all necessary upgrades in the ground control centres completed to schedule. Further integration is due to be completed in 2006 following the launch of Skynet 5A. The Reacher land tactical terminals programme is progressing. The Talon land tactical terminals were delivered on schedule and are currently supporting operational service with the UK Armed Forces in Afghanistan with usage far greater than initially envisaged.

Paradigm is also ordering the partial build of a fourth satellite, to be held in reserve. If required, in order to maintain the assurance strategy of having three satellites in orbit, the fourth satellite would be completed and launched in the event that any of the first three satellites were not successfully commissioned after launch. (See: BATTLESPACE UPDATE Vol.7 ISSUE 45, 17th November 2005, Skynet 5 DEVELOPMENTS, By Adam Baddeley, Deputy Editor, BATTLESPACE)

The revamped contract will ensure around 300 high tech jobs in the UK are safeguarded with costs for the extended capability essentially being met by savings from insurance costs and deferring the introduction of any subsequent systems.

Lord Drayson said: “The original deal with Paradigm Secure Communications included money for ‘space insurance’ to protect against technical problems in the launch phase or outer space, but because of current trends in the space insurance market and its unpredictability over long periods of time, we have decided that agreeing to the company providing a third satellite as a spare provides for better value for money.

“The new deal is an excellent example of the innovative approach the Defence Industrial Strategy aims to encourage in an already successful programme. We are providing our Armed Forces with an even better long term communication service deal than the excellent one that is already available.

“The new deal has been built on effective partnering and demonstrates how well the MoD and industry can work together over time under the Private Finance Initiative to deliver the best services for the Armed Forces, whilst at the same time increasing value for money for the tax payer.”

One of the three satellites will assume the role of an in-orbit spare providing a better risk balance approach. In case one of the three satellites is lost during the launch phase, which completes at the end of 2008, the

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