EADS says it expects to sign an estimated $3.6 billion contract in Britain for the Skynet 5 defence satellite programme "in weeks". EADS Astrium will build the spacecraft. The contract for Skynet 5 military satellite communications programme is a sign of growth in the group's business in Britain, EADS said at a news conference at the Show. "The UK is becoming a home market for EADS," said co-chief executive Philippe Camus.

Britain's Armed Forces are to get the new and highly advanced satellite communication system under a Private Finance Initiative (PFI) programme worth around $3.34 billion. The British-based Astrium-based Paradigm consortium - part of EADS - has been selected as preferred bidder for the Skynet 5 programme in 2002. The programme is expected to create or sustain up to 1,500 jobs across the UK.


The UK Ministry of Defence says: "Skynet 5 is the biggest MoD Private Finance Initiative project to reach preferred bidder stage. We are getting this service for a lot less than we would have paid if the MoD had ordered the satellites itself and operated them using its own personnel.

"We are also getting a greatly improved service with security and flexibility built in to cope with the growth in military satellite communications requirements we expect over the next few years. In addition, the MoD has also managed to reduce the overall cost of Skynet 5 by applying fresh and innovative thinking. This project is a clear example of how we are now, using Smart Acquisition principles, getting both better military capability and better value for money."

When the contract confirmed, Paradigm will progressively take over the management of the existing Skynet 4 series constellation in the run up to the launch of Skynet 5 satellites. Initial Operational Service will be delivered in 2005 with the full service available in 2008.

Source: Flight Daily News