Skynet (satellite)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

An artist's impression of a Skynet 5 satellite

Skynet is a family of military communications satellites, now operated by Babcock International on behalf of the United Kingdom's Ministry of Defence (MoD).[1][2][3] They provide strategic and tactical communication services to the branches of the British Armed Forces, the British intelligence agencies, some UK government departments and agencies, and to allied governments. Since 2015 when Skynet coverage was extended eastward, and in conjunction with an Anik G1 satellite module over America, Skynet offers near global coverage.[4]

The Skynet contract allow Airbus Defence and Space to sell surplus bandwidth, through the Skynet partner programme, to NATO and allied governments, including the Five Eyes intelligence alliance members (Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the United Kingdom and the United States).[4] As of 2020, seven Skynet satellites are operating, plus Anik G1.

The Skynet 1 to 4 series were developed and operated by the Signals Research and Development Establishment, Royal Signals and Radar Establishment and Royal Air Force until 2003.[5] It was subsequently operated with Skynet 5 by Paradigm Secure Communications until October 2012, when the organisation was rebranded to Astrium Services then through merger in 2015 became Airbus Defence and Space.[6]

The MoD is currently specifying a new architecture for Skynet to replace the Skynet 5 system, whose funding programme ends in August 2022. The vision for Skynet 6 is a flexible system architecture that combines UK government, allied and commercial satellites, including the current Skynet 5 satellites.[7][8] Skynet is the large part of the MoD Future Beyond Line of Sight satellite communications programme (FBLOS), which extends to 2041, with expected transition costs of about £6 billion.


Launch of the first Skynet satellite, Skynet 1A, by Delta rocket in 1969 from Cape Canaveral.

In the 1960s, only two countries utilised communications satellites, the United States and the Soviet Union. The United Kingdom created Skynet as its own military communications satellite system, because of inadequate undersea communications cable availability and to increase flexibility, reliability, data capacity and security.[9][10] The Signals Research and Development Establishment led the development of Skynet 1 and 2, and its successor Royal Signals and Radar Establishment carried out research for the development of the subsequent satellites and ground terminals.[11][12]

The MoD space communications research programme began in 1962, initially considering Moon and space debris bounce techniques, before considering a UK satellite. In 1964, it was decided Skynet should be in geostationary orbit over the Indian Ocean, significantly to support East of Suez deployments, and have a transponder with two channels permitting communications between two types of ground station. This would be an advance over the ongoing U.S. Interim Defense Communication Satellite Program (IDCSP).[13] In 1965, the U.S. invited the MoD to participate in their IDCSP programme, and to participate Marconi were contracted to build three 40 foot diameter air transportable ground stations for the launch of the first IDCSP satellites in 1966. As Britain had insufficient industry expertise to build satellites, a contact was placed with U.S. Philco Ford to build Skynet 1, but with the assistance of Marconi to improve UK expertise for Skynet 2.[14]

Nine ground stations were initially planned, which could also communicate with sub-geostationary U.S. IDCSP satellites:[13]

Skynet 1A was the first military satellite in geostationary orbit, in 1969.[12] The Royal Air Force displayed a model of the Skynet satellite on the children's television show Blue Peter in 1969, the show also described the new British satellite control centre at RAF Oakhanger.[9]

The Skynet satellites provided secure and encrypted facilities, though expensively, for the British armed forces and intelligence agencies. It enables an important sovereign command and control service.[15] The largest user of the Skynet satellites during the Cold War was the Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ),[16] who were responsible for over 80% of traffic at some locations such as Cyprus.[9] Despite the enormous communications capability of Skynet, GCHQ still found the capacity provided by Skynet to be inadequate.[9] In 1972, GCHQ was still the satellite's largest funder, and argued for the purchase of an American built Type-777 (DSCS II) satellite instead.[9] GCHQ would later plan their own secret signals intelligence satellite, Zircon, which was subsequently cancelled. The circumstances around the reporting of Zircon's existence would become known as the Zircon affair.[17]

Skynet has throughout all its models had a good degree of interoperability with U.S. and NATO military communications satellites and ground stations.[16]

In 2010, the Civil Contingencies Secretariat of the Cabinet Office launched the High Integrity Telecommunications System, a satellite-based emergency communications service based on Skynet, for use by UK police and other emergency services, primarily for use at Strategic Command Centres and at major events and emergencies. It replaced the earlier Emergency Communications Network.[18][19]

In 2021 UK Space Command was created, which when fully operational will take over responsibility for Skynet from Strategic Command (previously known as Joint Forces Command), likely in 2023.[20][21]


Skynet 1[edit]

There were two Skynet 1 satellites (1A and 1B); Skynet 1A was launched on a Delta M on 22 November 1969, but the satellite failed after about 18 months when all of its Traveling Wave Tube Amplifiers (TWTAs) had failed, probably due to soldered high voltage joints failing under thermal cycling.[14] Skynet 1B was launched on a Delta M on 19 August 1970. Skynet 1B was placed in a geostationary transfer orbit (GTO) and was abandoned in transfer orbit (270 x 36058 km) due to a failure of the Thiokol Star 17A apogee kick motor.[22]

Skynet 1 series satellites had an orbit mass of 122 kg (269 lb), were spin-stabilised with a single despun antenna with 3 watts of output on two channels (2 MHz and 20 MHz).[12] The North Atlantic Treaty Organization, NATO 2A and NATO 2B satellites, launched 1970 and 1971, were identical except for an antenna shaped to only cover NATO countries.[23]

Skynet 2[edit]

Skynet 2B being unpacked at Cape Canaveral for launch processing. It was successfully launched 23 November 1974.

Following the operational failure of the Skynet 1A satellite, the timetable for the launch of the Skynet 2 communications satellite was delayed. Skynet 2A was launched on the Delta 2313 by NASA for the United Kingdom on 19 January 1974.[24] A short circuit in an electronics package circuit board (on second stage) left the upper stages and satellite in an unstable low orbit (96 x 3406 km x 37.6°) that rapidly decayed. An investigation revealed that a substandard coating had been used on the circuit board.[25]

Despite being in an unstable orbit, the ground stations successfully located and tracked Skynet 2A and were able to use telemetry readings from the solar panels to determine its alignment. Based on this analysis, it was decided to use the alignment thrusters to deorbit the unit, and it was destroyed when it re-entered the Earth's atmosphere on 24 January 1974.[26]

Skynet 2B was successfully launched on the Delta 2313 by NASA for the United Kingdom on 23 November 1974.[27] It was positioned in geostationary orbit above Kenya to give coverage of Europe, Africa and a substantial part of Asia as far east at the Philippines. It could support about ten simultaneous users. Major ground stations used a 40-foot diameter dish, while in the field or at sea a 2 m diameter dish was used.[28]

Skynet 2 satellites had an orbit mass of 250 kg (550 lb), with a single antenna with 16 watts of output.[12]

A Skynet 2 satellite being packed for shipment

The Skynet 2 series satellites were assembled and tested at the Marconi Space and Defence Systems establishment in Portsmouth, England, and were the first non-amateur [29] communication satellites built outside the United States and USSR.[30] The Signals Research and Development Establishment (SRE) led the development, and performed initial in-orbit testing. Subsequently, the Royal Signals and Radar Establishment supported Skynet satellites, including developing ground terminals and modems, at RAF Defford which was also a backup for the primary ground station at RAF Oakhanger.[11] The Skynet 2B system was very successful for its time, and remained in service for 20 years although only having 2 communications channels.[5]

Skynet 3[edit]

Skynet 3 series satellites was cancelled as the United Kingdom withdrew East of Suez, and instead the capability it was intended to offer was delivered via U.S. and NATO assets.[5][12] This dependence on U.S. assets was identified as a weakness during the Falklands War and was one of the contributing factors for the emergence of the Skynet 4 series satellites tranche of space vehicles. Technology improvements created the possibility of tactical satellite communications using smaller terminals, creating a new requirement beyond Skynet 3 strategic headquarters communications.[14][31] The Royal Navy was also concerned that the high frequency radio alternative enabled location tracking by the Soviet Union Ocean Surveillance System.[32]

Skynet 4[edit]

Drawing of Skynet 4 in orbit
Soldier adjusting a small SATCOM ground terminal to Skynet in 2000

Skynet 4 series satellites have few similarities to the earlier generations, being based on the British Aerospace European Communications Satellite.[12] The cylindrical body of Skynet 1 and 2 was replaced by a large square body housing antennas with deployable solar-cell arrays. This marks the technological improvement from spin-stabilisation, used in earlier cylindrical satellites, to three-axis stabilisation using momentum wheels and reaction wheels controlling the satellite gyroscopically. Each satellite had a design operational life of 7 years.[5]

Skynet 4 manufacture was carried out by British Aerospace Dynamics (BAe Dynamics) with Matra Marconi Space (MMS) providing the Communications payload. NATO adapted the design for the NATO IVA and IVB communication satellites, also manufactured by BAe Dynamics.[12] The programme timescales were delayed, as initially Skynet 4 was designed to be launched from the Space Shuttle (STS), with chosen RAF officers to be part of each Shuttle Crew. However, following the 1986 Challenger disaster (STS 51-L), the programme slowed and all the Skynet 4 series satellites had to be modified to suit the changes needed to go on a disposable launch vehicle. As Skynet 4A build was advanced it needed significant modification, and its completion was overtaken by Skynet 4B which had not progressed as far, and hence more easily converted. Consequently, Skynet 4B was finished first and launched in 1988, with Skynet 4A next in early 1990, and Skynet 4C later the same year.[33][34] As of 2022, Skynet 4C is still in operation, providing service to the U.S. Amundsen–Scott South Pole Station for up to six hours a day because its orbital inclination has increased to 10.3°.[35][36][37][38]

The Stage 1 satellites (4A, 4B and 4C) have multi-frequency capability and considerable operational flexibility, with selectable channels, gain and four antenna types of differing widths to support varying requirements, Ultra high frequency (UHF), Super high frequency (SHF) and experimental Extremely high frequency (EHF) channels are available. They are hardening against electromagnetic pulse (EMP) and have anti-jamming capability, with an un-degraded 1600 watts power supply. The satellites have a dry mass of 670 kg (1,480 lb), with three reaction wheels and hydrazine thrusters for station keeping.[10]

The improved Stage 2 satellites (4D, 4E and 4F) were built by Matra Marconi Space and Astrium to replace the earlier versions. Improvements included increased power and resistance to electronic jamming. Skynet 4D was launched in 1998, Skynet 4E in 1999 and Skynet 4F in 2001.[39] Skynet 4D was parked in a non-operational supersynchronous orbit on 28 January 2008.[35]

Skynet 4 provides Ultra high frequency and Super high frequency services using Earth cover, wide area and spot beam coverage.[40]

Skynet 5[edit]

A CGI impression of Skynet 5D in orbit

Skynet 5 is the next generation of satellites, replacing the existing Skynet 4 Stage 2 satellites. It was contracted via Private Finance Initiative (PFI) to a partnership between Paradigm Secure Communications and EADS Astrium, a European spacecraft manufacturer.[41] EADS Astrium was responsible for the build and delivery of Skynet 5 series satellites in orbit, whilst subsidiary company Paradigm was responsible for the provision of service to the Ministry of Defence (MoD). In 2010, the PFI contract was extended by two years to 2022, to a total cost of £3.66 billion over the course of the contract, with Paradigm able to sell bandwidth in excess of the capacity of 1.1 Skynet satellites to other allied countries.[42][43] Paradigm had 220 staff and about 100 sub-contractors working on Skynet.[44] Serco is a major subcontractor on the PFI programme.[45] This was the biggest ever outsourced military satellite communications contract.[46]

The Skynet 5 satellite is based on the Eurostar E3000 satellite bus design, weighs about 4,700 kg (10,400 lb), has two solar panels each about fifteen metres long, and has a power budget of five kilowatts. It has four steerable transmission dishes, and a phased-array receiver designed to allow jamming signals to be cancelled out. They will also resist attempts to disrupt them with high-powered lasers.[47][48]

Astrium described in 2010 the Skynet 5 system as:

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.[49]

Skynet 5A was launched by an Ariane 5 launch vehicle at 22:03 UTC on 11 March 2007, in a launch shared with the Indian INSAT 4B civil communications satellite, and entered full service on 10 May 2007.[50] The launch was delayed from 10 March 2007 due to malfunction of a launch pad deluge system.[51] Skynet 5A successfully separated from its launch vehicle and telemetry was acquired by its dedicated Control Centre approximately 40 minutes after launch.

Skynet 5B was launched at 22:06 UTC on 14 November 2007, from Centre Spatial Guyanais, Kourou, in French Guiana, aboard an Ariane 5ECA launch vehicle. This launch was delayed from 9 November 2007 due to problems with the electronics on one of the Solid Rocket Boosters (SRB), and 12 November 2007 due to a fuelling problem with the launch pad. At time of launch, the Ariane 5ECA launcher set a new record on this mission, deploying a total payload of more than 8,700 kg (19,200 lb).[52]

Skynet 5C was launched at 22:05:09 UTC on 12 June 2008, from Centre Spatial Guyanais, Kourou, in French Guiana, aboard an Ariane 5ECA launch vehicle.[53] The launch had been delayed twice. Originally scheduled for 23 May 2008, more checks were carried out on the launch vehicle and the launch was rescheduled for 30 May 2008.[54] A problem with the launch software during pre-launch checks led Arianespace to reschedule the launch for a second time to 12 June 2008.[55][56]

Skynet 5D was launched at 21:49:07 UTC on 19 December 2012, from Centre Spatial Guyanais, Kourou, in French Guiana, aboard an Ariane 5ECA launch vehicle. Skynet 5D provides more than double the UHF channels of the previous satellites, which are in demand as they support "comms on the move" for soldiers with backpack radios.[57] The Ministry of Defence described the satellite as having a "key role in gathering intelligence on operations", as well as communications.[49] Skynet 5D has larger fuel tanks enabling it to be repositioned more frequently if necessary.[58]

The programme marks a change of approach in the UK from traditional defence procurement methods to a services-based contract which also includes provision of leased ground terminals, Reacher vehicles, the Satellite Communications Onboard Terminal (SCOT) for ships, and the associated baseband equipment.[59]

Initially two Skynet 5 satellites were to be built, with insurance covering any launch loss; the MoD later decided to have a third satellite built in advance, and later still to have the third satellite launched to serve as an on-orbit spare, as well as an option to a fourth satellite, as a cheaper alternative to insurance.[44][60]

In 2011, The MOD took ownership of a NATO satellite with two UHF channels, to support the additional demands from British involvement in the War in Afghanistan. Control of this satellite was incorporated into the Skynet 5 PFI contract.[61]

The satellites are managed from a site named Hawthorn, a few hundred metres north of MoD Corsham, in partnership with MoD's Defence Digital (previously Information Systems & Services) who are based at MoD Corsham.[62]

Expansion to near global coverage[edit]

In 2010, Paradigm announced it would lease the X-band (SHF) module on the Anik G1 commercial satellite at 107.3° West over the Pacific Ocean, covering the Americas and as far west as Hawaii, to complement Skynet system coverage. The three-channel, wide-beam X-band payload has performance similar to a Skynet 5 satellite, but without the military hardening.[63] Anik G1 launched on 16 April 2013, improving the constellation's X-band capacity to 2.2 GHz of throughput.[58][37]

In 2015, Skynet 5A was moved from 6° East, where it reinforced Middle East coverage, to 95° East, near West Sumatra. This move was to extend the Skynet coverage eastward in the Indian Ocean and to the western Pacific Ocean. With this move and Anik G1, Skynet offers near global coverage, from 178° West to 163° East.[64][4]

In 2016, a new Australian ground station was opened at Mawson Lakes, Adelaide, managed by Airbus in partnership with SpeedCast, an Australian provider for over 25 years which works with the Australian military at that base. This complements Airbus's existing chain of ground stations in France, Germany, Norway, United Kingdom and the United States. The British High Commissioner Menna Rawlings said at the opening ceremony "Territorial disputes over uninhabited rocks and reefs have the potential to generate enough friction in international affairs to spark a confrontation", alluding to the territorial disputes in the South China Sea.[65][66]

Airbus Defence and Space signed a further three partners, Hughes Network Systems, Inmarsat and SpeedCast, into its Skynet partner programme who offer third-party Skynet services. The Skynet contract also allow Airbus to sell surplus bandwidth to NATO and allied governments, including the Five Eyes intelligence alliance (Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the United Kingdom and the United States).[4][67]

Technical specifications[edit]

The fleet of military X-band satellites have been specifically designed to support smaller, low powered, tactical terminals. Each Skynet 5 satellite is equipped with:

  • High power 160W TWTAs on all transponders, giving 56 dBW peak EIRP in each transmit spot beam and 41 dBW peak EIRP in each global beam per transponder
  • 15 active SHF / EHF transponders ranging in bandwidth from 20 GHz to 40 GHz
  • Up to 9 UHF channels
  • Multiple fully steerable downlink spot beams
  • On Board Active Receive Antenna (OBARA) capable of generating multiple shaped uplink beams
  • Flexible switching capability allowing connectivity between any uplink beam and at least two downlink beams
  • Nuclear hardening, anti-jamming countermeasures and laser protection[68]

Skynet 6[edit]

An artist's impression of Skynet 6A in orbit

As of 2018, the MoD was specifying the replacement of Skynet 5, whose PFI programme ends in August 2022.[69][8] Airbus Defence and Space will build a non-competitively sourced Skynet 6A satellite planned for a 2025 launch, as a transition to a new architecture.[70][71] As of 2017, the PFI project was viewed as unlikely to be extended, as PFI contracting was then seen as generally poor value for taxpayers, and it had depleted MoD of satellite expertise which made specifying its replacement difficult.[72]

Skynet 6A is based on the Airbus Eurostar Neo satellite bus, using electric orbit raising and station keeping propulsion, and built at Airbus Stevenage and Portsmouth, England. It uses more radio frequencies for communication, and will have more capacity and versatility than Skynet 5 satellites.[8][73] A contract for over £500 million was agreed in July 2020, including launch, testing and related ground operations improvements.[73][74] Due to the delay in agreeing the Skynet 6A contract, preliminary contracts for initial design and to manufacture long lead items had been agreed earlier to prevent end-date slippage.[75][71] Manufacture of 6A started in October 2021, and a Falcon 9 launch was booked with SpaceX for 2025.[76][77]

The vision for Skynet 6 is a flexible system architecture that combines UK government, allied and commercial satellites. The MoD has become a user of U.S. military constellations Advanced Extremely High Frequency (AEHF) and the Wideband Global Satcom (WGS) systems, and may become a partner in the Mobile User Objective System (MUOS).[7][78] Part of the enhanced capability would be to support data links to unmanned aerial vehicles and F-35B Lightning II aircraft.[79][80]

As of 2019, Skynet is the large part of the MoD Future Beyond Line of Sight Satellite Communications programme (FBLOS), which extends to 2041, and has four elements:[71][81]

  • Skynet 6A, a single transition satellite
  • Service Delivery Wrap, a support contract to manage and control the Skynet constellation and ground infrastructure
  • Skynet 6 Enduring Capability, to provide and operate communication satellites and ground infrastructure into the future
  • Secure Telemetry, Tracking and Command (STT&C), to provide assured UK control and management of satellites and their payloads into the future

On 3 July 2020, the UK Government announced that it had acquired a 45% stake in the OneWeb low Earth orbit satellite communications company, for US$500 million including a golden share to give it control over any future ownership sale.[82] Analysts believe OneWeb will be incorporated into the Skynet 6 architecture. OneWeb satellites are already manufactured by a joint venture including Airbus Defence and Space, which positions the current Skynet operator well for future involvement in Skynet 6.[83][84]

In 2021, a one-year transition was expected to start from the Airbus PFI contract to the new Service Delivery Wrap contract which will operate ground stations until a new generation of satellites under an Enduring Capability contract are launched from about 2028. This transition is expected to cost about £6 billion.[75]

In February 2023, Babcock International won the Service Delivery Wrap support contract to operate and manage Skynet, including the ground infrastructure and integrating new user terminals, for six years from March 2024 at a cost of £400 million.[85][86]

During 2023 contractors were preparing to bid on the SkyNet Enduring Capability programme, which is split into two contracts: the major one to deliver a constellation of up to three geostationary wideband satellite systems for launch from 2028-2030, and a smaller contract for a narrowband service for tactical battlefield access.[87][88]

Information assurance[edit]

In early 1999, Reuters reported that the Skynet system was breached by a group of hackers who issued blackmail threats against the MoD. Duncan Campbell reported that the wire reports were wrong.[89]

Satellite summary[edit]

Model Manufacturer Launch date Launch vehicle End of service[90] GSO position in 2017[37] Comments
Skynet 1
1A Philco Ford 22 November 1969 Delta M 1971 105° West Non-operational, not re-orbited[35]
1B Philco Ford 19 August 1970 Delta M launch failure Apogee motor failure, did not orbit[35]
Skynet 2
2A Marconi Space Systems 19 January 1974 Delta 2000 launch failure Rocket guidance failure, re-entry on 25 January 1974[35]
2B Marconi Space Systems 23 November 1974 Delta 2000 ~1994[5] ~8° East Uncontrolled, not re-orbited[35]
Skynet 4 Stage 1
4A British Aerospace 1 January 1990 Commercial Titan III[91] 2005 Launched with JCSAT-2, re-orbited in supersynchronous orbit on 20 June 2005[35]
4B British Aerospace 11 December 1988 Ariane 44LP 1998 Launched with Astra 1A, re-orbited 150 km above GSO in June 1998[35]
4C British Aerospace 30 August 1990 Ariane 44LP 33° East From about 2017 providing service to the Amundsen–Scott South Pole Station[36]
Skynet 4 Stage 2
4D Matra Marconi Space[note 1] 10 January 1998 Delta 7000 2008 Replaced 4B, re-orbited in a supersynchronous orbit on 28 January 2008[35]
4E Matra Marconi Space 26 February 1998 Ariane 44L 6° East
4F Astrium[note 2] 7 February 2001 Ariane 44L 34° West
Skynet 5
5A EADS Astrium[note 3] 11 March 2007 Ariane 5ECA 95° East (prev. 6° East) Launched with Insat 4B. Moved in 2015 to extend Skynet coverage eastward to the western Pacific.[4]
5B EADS Astrium 14 November 2007 Ariane 5ECA 25° East (prev. 53° East)[35] Launched with Star One C1
5C EADS Astrium 12 June 2008 Ariane 5ECA 17.8° West Launched with Turksat 3A
5D EADS Astrium 19 December 2012 Ariane 5ECA 53° East Launched with MEXSAT-3
Skynet 6
6A Airbus Defence and Space planned 2025 Falcon 9 Block 5[77]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Marconi Space Systems merged to form Matra Marconi Space in 1990. MMS acquired BAe Space Systems in 1994
  2. ^ In 2000 MMS merged with DASA's space division to form Astrium.
  3. ^ BAE Systems sold its 25% share of Astrium, renamed EADS Astrium


  1. ^
  2. ^
  3. ^
  4. ^ a b c d e "Airbus Defence and Space expands its Skynet channel partner network with three major military communication providers". UKspace. 14 September 2016. Retrieved 20 February 2021.
  5. ^ a b c d e Day, Belinda (30 June 2017). "The Original Skynet". Royal Air Force Museum. Archived from the original on 2 September 2019.
  6. ^ "Government Communications". Paradigm Services. Archived from the original on 28 October 2014. Retrieved 28 May 2015.
  7. ^ a b Erwin, Sandra (6 November 2018). "UK MoD still undecided on how to procure satellite communications". SpaceNews. Retrieved 21 July 2019.
  8. ^ a b c Amos, Jonathan (20 July 2020). "MoD contracts Airbus for Skynet telecoms satellite". BBC News. Retrieved 30 October 2020.
  9. ^ a b c d e Aldrich, Richard J. (2011). GCHQ. London: Harper Press. pp. 347–348. ISBN 978-0-007312-665.
  10. ^ a b T. C. Tozer (April 1987). An Introduction to Military Satellite Communications (PDF) (Report). Royal Signals and Radar Establishment. RSRE Memorandum 3976. Archived (PDF) from the original on 25 March 2020. Retrieved 26 January 2021.
  11. ^ a b Harris, Dick (July 2018). "Defford Satellite Communications". Malvern Radar and Technology History Society. Retrieved 19 January 2021.
  12. ^ a b c d e f g P. J. Skilton (January 1989). Tactical UK Military Satellite Ground Terminals - A Research and Development Review (PDF) (Report). Royal Signals and Radar Establishment. RSRE Memorandum 4262. Archived (PDF) from the original on 15 August 2021. Retrieved 19 January 2021.
  13. ^ a b Burr, Ron (February 2012). "Chapter 14.2 - Satellite Communications". The Decca Legacy - a View From Inside the Radar Company Decca - BAe Systems 1949-2009. Wootton Bridge Historical. Retrieved 21 January 2021.
  14. ^ a b c Harris, Dick (July 2018). "Skynet". Malvern Radar and Technology History Society. Retrieved 21 January 2021.
  15. ^ Bleddyn E. Bowen (November 2020). The Integrated Review and UK Spacepower: The Search for Strategy (PDF). Freeman Air and Space Institute (Report). King's College London. pp. 3, 11–13, 15–16. Retrieved 11 March 2021.
  16. ^ a b Bowen, Bleddyn (Summer 2019). "A Familiar Frontier: British Defence Strategy and Spacepower". Air and Space Power Review. 22 (2). Royal Air Force: 6–14. Retrieved 28 January 2021.
  17. ^ Wilby, David. "The Zircon Affair 1986-1987" (PDF). BBC. Archived from the original (PDF) on 5 September 2012. Retrieved 1 June 2013.
  18. ^ "HITS Information Pack" (PDF). Cabinet Office, Civil Contingencies Secretariat. September 2010. Retrieved 28 January 2021.
  19. ^ "High Integrity Telecommunications System" (PDF). Cabinet Office. 2011. Retrieved 28 January 2021.
  20. ^ "UK Space Command". Ministry of Defence. 1 April 2021. Retrieved 23 June 2021.
  21. ^ Savage, Olivia (11 May 2022). "Defence Space 2022: UK Space Command details future plans". Jane's. IHS. Retrieved 14 July 2022.
  22. ^ "Display: Skynet 1B 1970-062A". NASA. 13 April 2021. Retrieved 18 April 2021. Public Domain This article incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain.
  23. ^ "NATO 2A, 2B". Gunter's Space Page. 11 December 2017. Retrieved 18 April 2021.
  24. ^ Kevin S. Forsyth. "History of the Delta Launch Vehicle: Flight Log".
  25. ^ Kyle, Ed (9 April 2010). "Delta 2000 series". Space Launch Report. Archived from the original on 8 December 2012.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: unfit URL (link)
  26. ^ "Display: Skynet 2A 1974-002A". NASA. 13 April 2021. Retrieved 18 April 2021. Public Domain This article incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain.
  27. ^ "Display: Skynet 2B 1974-094A". NASA. 13 April 2021. Retrieved 18 April 2021. Public Domain This article incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain.
  28. ^ Dykes, Godfrey (2007). "Satellite Communications". Communications Branch Museum/Library. Retrieved 14 January 2021.
  29. ^ The first communications satellite built outside the U.S. and former USSR appears to have been Australis-OSCAR 5, built at the University of Melbourne in Victoria, Australia and launched from Vandenberg Air Force Base on 23 January 1970.
  30. ^ "Minisatellites 1970-1980". Surrey Satellite Technology Limited. Archived from the original on 27 September 2007. Retrieved 8 October 2007.
  31. ^ "UK Military Space Programmes, Whitehall Papers Volume 35, Issue 1, 1996". Whitehall Papers. 35: 30–43. 1996. doi:10.1080/02681309609414784.
  32. ^ Mitchell, Keith (24 October 2019). "Skynet: the real communication satellite system". National Archives. Retrieved 26 January 2021.
  33. ^ "Display: Skynet 4A 1990-001A". NASA. 13 April 2021. Retrieved 18 April 2021. Public Domain This article incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain.
  34. ^ "Display: Skynet 4C 1990-079A". NASA. 13 April 2021. Retrieved 18 April 2021. Public Domain This article incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain.
  35. ^ a b c d e f g h i j UK Registry of Outer Space Objects (PDF) (Report). UK Space Agency. October 2020. Retrieved 9 January 2021.
  36. ^ a b "Skynet". United States Antarctic Program. National Science Foundation. Retrieved 26 January 2021. Public Domain This article incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain.
  37. ^ a b c "X-Band for Mission Critical Communications" (PDF). Airbus. 10 May 2017. Retrieved 21 February 2021.
  38. ^ Swinhoe, Dan (2022). "Antarctica comes in from the cold". DCD Magazine. Retrieved 17 September 2022.
  39. ^ "Skynet 4A, 4B, 4C, 4D, 4E, 4F". Gunter's Space Page. 14 February 2019. Retrieved 18 April 2021.
  40. ^ Cannon, Michael (1994). Eavesdropping on the British Military. Dublin, Eire: Cara Press. p. 105.
  41. ^ Berry, Edward (12 July 2006). "The UK MoD's Skynet 5 restructuring". IJGlobal. Retrieved 25 May 2021.
  42. ^ Clark, Nick (10 March 2010). "MoD extends Skynet contract". The Independent. Retrieved 27 November 2020.
  43. ^ Ministry of Defence - Major Projects Report 2006 (PDF) (Report). National Audit Office. 24 November 2006. pp. 19–23. HC 23-I. Retrieved 27 November 2020.
  44. ^ a b Peto, Malcolm (November 2009). "Skynet 5". Innisfree Group. PPP Forum. Retrieved 10 March 2021.
  45. ^ "Satcoms". Serco. Retrieved 10 March 2021.
  46. ^ Black, James; Hall, Alex; Cox, Kate; Kepe, Marta; Silfversten, Erik (2017). Defence and security after Brexit (PDF) (Report). RAND. doi:10.7249/RR1786. Retrieved 13 March 2021.
  47. ^ "UK set for military space launch". BBC News. 9 November 2007. Retrieved 13 June 2008.
  48. ^ Allison, George (21 May 2018). "What is Skynet? A look at Britain's military communications satellites". UK Defence Journal. Retrieved 26 January 2021.
  49. ^ a b "Sky's the Limit for New Military Satellite - Paradigm Agrees Deal with UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) for Fourth Skynet 5 Satellite". (Press release). Ministry of Defence and EADS Astrium. 9 March 2010. Retrieved 5 April 2020.
  50. ^ "Astrium triple success as Skynet 5A enters full service" (Press release). EADS Astrium. 10 May 2007. Archived from the original on 23 May 2007.
  51. ^ "British Skynet satellite launched". BBC News. 12 March 2007. Retrieved 13 June 2008.
  52. ^ "Arianespace boosts Skynet 5B and Star One C1 into orbit: Sets new record" (Press release). Arianespace. 14 November 2007. Archived from the original on 17 June 2008. Retrieved 13 June 2008.
  53. ^ "Successful dual launch for Arianespace: Skynet 5C and Turksat 3A in orbit; 25th successful launch in a row for Ariane 5" (Press release). Arianespace. 12 June 2008. Retrieved 8 April 2023.
  54. ^ "Arianespace Flight Skynet 5C – Turksat 3A: Liftoff rescheduled for the night of May 30, 2008" (Press release). Arianespace. 14 May 2008. Archived from the original on 30 May 2008. Retrieved 13 June 2008.
  55. ^ "Arianespace launch with Skynet 5C and Turksat 3A: launch postponed" (Press release). Arianespace. 30 May 2008. Retrieved 8 April 2023.
  56. ^ "Ariane Skynet 5C And Turksat 3A Launch Delayed To June 12". 10 June 2008. Retrieved 8 April 2023.
  57. ^ "UK's Skynet military satellite launched". BBC News. 19 December 2012. Retrieved 20 December 2012.
  58. ^ a b Peter B. de Selding (16 April 2013). "Newly Launched Anik G1 To Provide Revenue Boost for Telesat". SpaceNews. Retrieved 21 February 2021.
  59. ^ Davison, Iain; Miles, Ian (2013). "A SPAR Modelling Platform Case Study: Skynet 5". Procedia Cirp. 11. Elsevier: 431–434. doi:10.1016/j.procir.2013.07.001.
  60. ^ "Countdown to UK military launch". BBC News. 29 May 2008. Retrieved 30 May 2008.
  61. ^ "New satellite improves communications in Afghanistan". Ministry of Defence. 30 August 2011. Retrieved 14 July 2022 – via
  62. ^ Reacher is a highlight of Paradigm factfinder (PDF). desider (Report). Defence Equipment and Support. November 2011. p. 17. Retrieved 11 February 2019.
  63. ^ Peter B. de Selding (13 October 2010). "Paradigm Secures All of Anik G1's X-band Capacity". SpaceNews. Retrieved 20 February 2021.
  64. ^ "UK to deliver secure communications with new satellite move". Ministry of Defence. 17 March 2015. Retrieved 14 July 2022 – via
  65. ^ MacLennan, Leah (16 May 2016). "Skynet satellite ground station opens in Adelaide to aid UK military communications". Australia: ABC News. Retrieved 20 February 2021.
  66. ^ "Skynet in Australia". Defence Connect. 16 May 2016. Retrieved 20 February 2021.
  67. ^ Henry, Caleb (16 September 2015). "Skynet 5A Satellite Arrives at Asia-Pacific Orbital Slot". Via Satellite. Access Intelligence. Retrieved 20 February 2021.
  68. ^ "Skynet 5 System features". Archived from the original on 16 May 2014.
  69. ^ Peterman, Ken (12 February 2019). "Skynet 6: Private sector innovation "critical" to meeting UK defence SATCOM needs". UK Defence Journal. Retrieved 21 July 2019.
  70. ^ Henry, Caleb (7 November 2018). "HTS, megaconstellations feed UK indecisiveness about Skynet 6 program". SpaceNews. Retrieved 21 July 2019.
  71. ^ a b c Lovegrove, Stephen (22 October 2019). "Accounting Officer Assessment - Skynet 6" (PDF). Ministry of Defence. Retrieved 19 April 2020.
  72. ^ Todd, David (29 November 2017). "UK MoD confirms competition for proper follow-on to Skynet 5 after award to Airbus for Skynet 6A gapfiller". Seradata. Retrieved 21 July 2019.
  73. ^ a b "Airbus signs contract with UK Ministry of Defence for Skynet 6A satellite" (Press release). Airbus. 19 July 2020. Retrieved 22 February 2021.
  74. ^ Chuter, Andrew (20 July 2020). "Airbus gets US$630 million deal under UK military's Skynet 6 push". DefenseNews. Gannett. Retrieved 22 February 2021.
  75. ^ a b Chuter, Andrew (22 May 2020). "UK nears final stage of Skynet competition". Sightline Media. Retrieved 22 February 2021.
  76. ^ "The UK MOD's Skynet 6A MILSATCOM Satellite Production Is Initiated By Airbus". satnews. 13 October 2021. Retrieved 8 November 2021.
  77. ^ a b Ralph, Eric (2 November 2021). "SpaceX wins Skynet launch contract". Teslarati. Retrieved 8 November 2021.
  78. ^ Henry, Caleb (7 November 2018). "HTS, megaconstellations feed UK indecisiveness about Skynet 6 program". SpaceNews. Retrieved 22 February 2021.
  79. ^ Allison, George (13 September 2019). "SKYNET 6 British military satellite project receives boost". UK Defence Journal. Retrieved 10 April 2020.
  80. ^ Reynolds, Conor (12 September 2019). "Who Wants to Run SKYNET 6? Gov't Says £6 Billion in Contracts is Landing Soon". Computer Business Review.
  81. ^ Departmental Overview 2019-2020 - Ministry of Defence (PDF) (Report). National Audit Office. December 2020. p. 18. DP Ref: 008063-001. Retrieved 22 February 2021.
  82. ^ "UK government takes £400m stake in satellite firm OneWeb". BBC News. 3 July 2020. Retrieved 30 October 2020.
  83. ^ Henry, Caleb (19 July 2020). "British military finalizes Skynet-6A contract with Airbus". SpaceNews. Retrieved 30 October 2020.
  84. ^ Hollinger, Peggy (2 July 2020). "UK gamble on OneWeb signals more interventionist space policy". Financial Times. Archived from the original on 10 December 2022. Retrieved 21 November 2020. "The real end game here is SkyNet", said one industry executive, referring to the military grade constellation that for 17 years has been operated by Airbus, and whose contract is soon coming to an end.
  85. ^ Chuter, Andrew (15 February 2023). "Babcock wins $480 million bid to run Britain's Skynet SATCOM program". DefenseNews. Gannett. Retrieved 22 April 2023.
  86. ^ "£400 million contract to operate military satellite communications system supports 400 UK jobs" (Press release). Ministry of Defence. 15 February 2023. Retrieved 22 April 2023 – via
  87. ^ Pfeifer, Sylvia (23 October 2023). "Airbus signs up Northrop Grumman in bid for SkyNet military satellite contract". Financial Times. Retrieved 17 November 2023.
  88. ^ "Skynet Enduring Capability wideband satellite system pre-PQQ". Ministry of Defence. 31 May 2023. Retrieved 17 November 2023 – via
  89. ^ Duncan Campbell (20 May 1999). "Cyber Sillies". The Guardian. Retrieved 19 February 2008.
  90. ^ Swinburne, Brian (18 November 2018). "SKYNET Operations and Space Weather". Airbus Defence & Space. Retrieved 26 January 2021.
  91. ^ Krebs, Gunter (14 February 2019). "Skynet 4A, 4B, 4C, 4D, 4E, 4F". Gunter's Space Page. Retrieved 18 April 2021.

External links[edit]