Airbus Defence and Space

Security & Defence Press releases

Paradigm agrees deal with UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) for fourth Skynet 5 satellite

  • Paradigm, a wholly owned subsidiary of Airbus Defence and Space, signs an extension to the Skynet 5 services contract with the UK MoD
  • The extension adds a fourth Skynet satellite “5D” and will enhance the Milsatcoms service provision capability to UK MoD and Allied Forces until at least 2022
  • The expansion of the Skynet 5 constellation will provide additional capacity to a growing international market


Portsmouth, 9th March 2010 – Paradigm, a wholly owned subsidiary of Airbus Defence and Space, has signed a contract with the UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) to extend and enhance the Skynet 5 private finance initiative (PFI) programme. This will involve the manufacture, launch, test and operation of a fourth satellite, Skynet 5D, and the extension of the Skynet 5 contract by two years until 2022.


The contract extension will guarantee UK MoD additional capacity on the Skynet 5 constellation.


Eric Béranger, CEO of Airbus Defence and Space said:


“The Skynet 5 programme was a pioneering step in the provision of milsatcoms via a commercial operator. In the past six years we have not only met the exacting requirements of UK MoD, but have also provided a comprehensive and flexible service to allied nations worldwide.

“The demand for a fourth Skynet 5 satellite demonstrates the growing global demand for the services we can offer and proves that we have successfully implemented a truly innovative approach to milsatcom procurement.



Since 2003, the groundbreaking Skynet 5 programme, managed by Paradigm, has provided UK MoD with a suite of highly robust, reliable and secure military communications services, supporting operations in Iraq, Afghanistan and the Balkans. The programme commenced by using the legacy Skynet 4 satellites and then augmenting them with a fully refurbished ground network before launching the Skynet 5A, 5B, and 5C satellites between 2007 and 2008.


The Skynet 5 PFI programme has been a huge operational success for the UK MoD, and has reduced or removed many of the technical and service risks, whilst ensuring unrivalled secure satcoms to UK forces and the best value for money for UK MoD. Over the past six years, the continued success of the programme has acted as a catalyst for an increase in satcoms usage and the introduction of a fourth satellite will satisfy these increasing future capacity requirements. The extra capacity will ensure that British and allied troops have instant access to the necessary communication resources when and where needed most


The introduction of additional Milsatcom capacity to the Skynet 5 fleet also means that Paradigm will continue to have the ability to address the needs of a growing international Milsatcom market. Since 2003, Paradigm has supported the Milsatcom requirements of NATO, the USA, Australia, Belgium, Canada, France, Germany, the Netherlands, and Portugal. The Czech Republic, Slovenia and Norway have also recently signed up to have access to Paradigm’s Skynet capacity.  The introduction of the additional Skynet 5D satellite will increase the communications capability for coalition and allied forces in regional hotspots. Allied nations will have guaranteed access to capacity on 5D, particularly in the UHF frequency band, which is currently in great demand from military forces.


Malcolm Peto, Director of Paradigm said: 


The contract extension for 5D is testament to the strong working partnership we have with UK MoD. Since the inception of the Skynet 5 programme we have been fully committed to providing them with the highest standard of service that has the flexibility, security and reliability they require.


“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.


The Skynet 5 system, including the satellites and ground segment, was designed and built by Airbus Defence and Space. The 5D payload is already complete, having been built as a risk reduction of the existing programme ahead of any potential requirement for a fourth Skynet 5 satellite, and work will now begin to complete the 5D satellite, in time for a scheduled launch in 2013. The Skynet 5 satellites are based on Airbus Defence and Space's highly successful Eurostar E3000 series. When the current Skynet 5 constellation became fully operational in 2008 it was the start of a new era in military communications, using some of the most complex Milsatcom satellites ever built.


The Skynet 5 satellites have the highest powered X-band transponders in orbit, a highly flexible uplink beam configuration, coupled with a world leading anti-jamming antenna to ensure that the constellation is extremely effective against hostile or non-hostile interference. All of the downlink beams are fully steerable and the whole payload is optimized to maximise performance for small, rapidly deployable satellite ground terminals on land, sea or air.



Airbus Defence and Space, a wholly owned subsidiary of AIRBUS Group, is dedicated to providing civil and defence space systems and services. In 2009, Airbus Defence and Space had a turnover of €4.8 billion and more than 15,000 employees in France, Germany, the United Kingdom, Spain and the Netherlands. Its three main areas of activity are Airbus Defence and Space for launchers and orbital infrastructure, Airbus Defence and Space for spacecraft and ground segment and Airbus Defence and Space for the development and delivery of satellite services.


AIRBUS Group is a global leader in aerospace, defence and related services. In 2009, AIRBUS Group generated revenues of €42.8 billion and employed a workforce of more than 119, 000.


Press contacts:

Daniel Mosely (Airbus Defence and Space UK)                                                      Tel.: +44 (0)1 438 77 8180

Matthieu Duvelleroy (Airbus Defence and Space FR)                                              Tel.: +33 (0) 1 77 75 80 32

Ralph Heinrich (Airbus Defence and Space GER)                                                   Tel.: +49 (0) 89 607 33971

Francisco Lechón (Airbus Defence and Space SP)                                                 Tel.: +34 91 586 37 41



Editors Notes


Paradigm – meeting all satellite communications requirements


Paradigm has a contract worth £3.6bn with the UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) for the provision of military satellite communications services to 2022. The programme, procured as a Private Finance Initiative (PFI), provides the next generation of UK Milsatcom capability.  The Paradigm team includes Airbus Defence and Space, the system designer and provider. For further information visit


In addition to complete X-band packages, Paradigm is able to offer capacity, coverage augmentation, anchoring and back-haul services, as well as terminal leasing.


From the outset, Paradigm planned for the Skynet 5 system to be far more capable and larger than that required to meet the UK MoD requirements. Paradigm is, therefore, able to offer services to other militaries and government organisations and has supplied milsatcom services to NATO, the Netherlands, Portugal, Canada, France, Germany, Australia and the US.


Paradigm's WelComE services enables service personnel to make telephone calls and have access to the Internet from operational theatres worldwide, as part of the MoD funded welfare package.  Paradigm has provided over 3 million hours of welfare telephone calls and provides Internet and email services that are free for use to all UK service personnel deployed on operations overseas.

Military CommunicationSatelliteSkynet 5Paradigm