British Aerospace Defence Systems and Lockheed Martin Missiles & Space have teamed to bid for the development of the Skynet 5 military communications satellite system for the UKMinistry of Defence.

The companies are competing with Matra Marconi Space (MMS), which includes the former BAe Space Systems, the original prime contractor for the Skynet 4 satellites, four of which are now launched, with two to follow. MMS's Skynet 5 is based on uprated Skynet 4 technology.

The BAe/Lockheed Martin proposal will use the US company's A2100 spacecraft bus for the two-satellite geostationary orbiting system. The MoD will award the two-year study contract later this year.

MMS and Alcatel-led consortia are working on a parallel study for a UK-French-German Trimilsatcom military communications satellite system, also based on an upgraded Skynet 4. Alcatel's UK partner has not yet been formalised, but could be BAe Defence Systems.

The Trimilsatcom would replace the UK Skynet 4 system, France's Syracuse transponders on national Telecom 2 satellites and provide Germany with its first military system. Other partners expected to participate include Spain.

Source: Flight International