Airbus Defence and Space

Telecommunications Press releases

Skynet 5D satellite ready for launch

• Skynet 5D ready to join the unique Airbus Defence and Space military constellation

• Skynet 5D is the fourth satellite of the Skynet 5 military communications system owned and operated by Airbus Defence and Space Services since 2007 for the UK Ministry of Defence through a Private Finance Initiative (PFI)

• Airbus Defence and Space Services is the pioneer and the world’s number one private-sector MilSatCom service supplier and provides telecommunications services to the most modern armed forces around the world

• Airbus Defence and Space triple prime contractor for this launch: Skynet programme, Skynet 5D satellite and Ariane 5 launcher

14 December 2012 - The fourth Airbus Defence and Space built Skynet 5 satellite is on target and ready for launch on 19 December from Kourou, French Guiana on an Ariane 5 launcher.

Airbus Defence and Space, Europe’s leading space company, is prime contractor for the Skynet 5 military satellite communications programme operating communications services for the UK Ministry of Defence until at least 2022. Airbus Defence and Space is also prime contractor for the design and manufacture of all four of the state-of-the-art milsatcom Skynet 5 satellites and prime contractor for the Ariane 5 launcher.

Evert Dudok, CEO of Airbus Defence and Space commented: “The launch of the fourth Skynet 5 secure military satellite is yet another major milestone in this remarkable ground breaking programme running for nearly a decade. Airbus Defence and Space has worked consistently to provide the highest levels of service to the UK Ministry of Defence. Airbus Defence and Space has invested significantly in support of the strong partnership with UK MOD, in return for a 2 year extension to the Skynet 5 concession until 2022. This launch will further enhance the services we can offer.”

Skynet 5 is a highly successful PFI (Private Finance Initiative) programme worth £4Bn signed in October 2003 with the UK Ministry of Defence. Through the Skynet concession, Airbus Defence and Space operates the Skynet military satellite constellation and the ground network to provide all Beyond Line of Sight (BLOS) communications to the UK Ministry of Defence and the Cabinet Office. The PFI has enabled Airbus Defence and Space to also provide Skynet-based communication services to other forces such as US, Portugal, and Australia.

With the launch of Skynet 5D, Airbus Defence and Space will operate a fleet of 8 high power X-band and UHF satellites: four Skynet 5, three Skynet 4 and the NATO IVB satellite. These satellites are hardened to demanding mission critical, military standards and are compliant with NSA and NATO STANAG standards. Skynet 5 satellites also feature an on board active receive antenna (OBARA) which can shape beams around sources of interference, providing a unique anti-jamming capability.

The Airbus Defence and Space built Skynet 5D satellite will reinforce and extend the operational service already provided by the existing three Skynet 5 satellites. It will be located over the Middle East (53 degrees East), becoming Airbus Defence and Space most highly active milsatcom satellite. Its larger fuel tanks enable it to be repositioned more frequently to meet operational needs. Skynet 5D will extend the total commercially owned X-band (Super High Frequency) to over 2GHz of high powered beams across the globe. Earlier this year Airbus Defence and Space signed a multi-million dollar contract with Harris CapRock to provide additional UHF capacity on Skynet 5D to military and government customers worldwide.

The first three Skynet 5 satellites operating in orbit were also launched on Ariane 5 launchers. Airbus Defence and Space is prime contractor for the European Ariane 5 launcher, responsible for the delivery to Arianespace of a fully integrated and tested launch vehicle. The Skynet 5 programme demonstrates Airbus Defence and Space’s complete range of expertise across all sectors of the space business: services, satellites and space transportation.


About Airbus Defence and Space

Airbus Defence and Space is the number one company in Europe for space technologies and the third in the world. In 2011, Airbus Defence and Space had a turnover close to €5 billion and 18,000 employees worldwide, mainly in France, Germany, the United Kingdom, Spain and the Netherlands.

Airbus Defence and Space is the sole European company that covers the whole range of civil and defence space systems and services.

Its three business units are: Airbus Defence and Space for launchers and orbital infrastructure; Airbus Defence and Space for spacecraft and ground segment;  Airbus Defence and Space for comprehensive fixed and mobile end-to-end solutions covering secure and commercial satcoms and networks, high security and broadcast satellite communications equipment and systems, and bespoke geo-information services, worldwide.

Airbus Defence and Space is a wholly owned subsidiary of AIRBUS Group, a global leader in aerospace, defence and related services. In 2011, the Group – comprising Airbus, Airbus Defence and Space, Cassidian and Eurocopter – generated revenues of € 49.1 billion and employed a workforce of over 133,000.


Press contacts:

Jeremy Close (Airbus Defence and Space UK)                                                       Tel.: +44 (0)1 438 77 3872

Gregory Gavroy (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

Military CommunicationTelecommunicationsSkynet 5