July 09, 2012
Credit: Credit: Astrium
Amy Svitak Paris
British military demand for Skynet satellite bandwidth is expected to decline with troop drawdowns in Iraq and Afghanistan, prompting Paradigm Services, a division of EADS-Astrium, to expand its commercial offering to include civil service monitoring and data collection for government and private-sector customers.
Paradigm's Skynet 5 contract with the U.K. Ministry of Defense, valued at £3.6 billion ($5.6 billion) through 2022, provides military-hardened, precise satellite communications worldwide. The contract, signed in October 2003, gives Paradigm ownership of the satellites and the rights to sell X-band satellite capacity to other governments and to NATO, once British military demand is met.
Paradigm has ordered four Skynet 5 satellites. Three are in orbit, with a fourth slated to launch later this year.
In 2009, the U.K. Defense Ministry adjusted its bandwidth demand forecast, taking into account the time-limited nature of operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.“Clearly, demand has remained high as we continue in current operations,” says Simon Kershaw, divisional managing director of telecom services at Astrium Services. “As troop withdrawals take place, then we would expect that to diminish over theaters of operation in terms of the additional capacity that is used to support such operations. But the ministry will continue to take off the base capacity for Skynet for its normal operational communications.”
Today, says ministry spokesman Lex Oliver, there are no plans to order a Skynet 5E. “The three current satellites are operating extremely successfully in support of U.K. operations,” Oliver says.
In 2009, Paradigm also started gaining traction with its High Integrity Telecommunications Services (HITS) program, providing resilient communications in support of civil security operations.