Airbus and Northrop Grumman have signed a Memorandum of Understanding covering their intention to address the UK Ministry of Defence’s (MOD) SKYNET Enduring Capability (SKEC) military satellite communications requirements as an integrated joint team.

The combination of the experience, knowledge, and capabilities of two of the world’s leading space companies into a joint team will provide the MOD with optimal solutions for the space and ground segments of the SKYNET architecture.  The team will work together to address future aspects of the SKYNET programme ensuring that UK social value and industrial participation is maximised, and that the ‘allied by design’ approach is implemented to drive towards interoperability with key national allies.

Richard Franklin, Managing Director Airbus Defence and Space UK said: “Northrop Grumman is a key partner in our offer to address the Service Delivery Wrap for future SKYNET services and an established international partner and supplier to the US Space Force. Signing this MOU with them is the next logical step to provide the next generation of solutions to the UK MOD – providing access to key US technologies and capabilities with Airbus’ world leading defence solutions.  Building on our recent SDA partnership, our combined proven experience across all domains of secure beyond line of sight communications, including our track record on the SKYNET 5 programme for the past 18 years, gives our team truly unique capabilities to be a partner for MOD.”

“Northrop Grumman is proud to join with Airbus in addressing the requirements of the Skynet programme, and believe that this team can offer the very best capabilities to the MOD now and in the future,” said Tom Wilson, President, Northrop Grumman Space Sector.  “This teaming agreement builds on the strong Northrop Grumman/Airbus relationship and the recent award of Airbus to provide 42 satellite buses for the Tranche 1 Transport Layer (T1TL) constellation Northrop Grumman is developing for the U.S. Space Development Agency.”

The SKYNET 5 programme, provided by Airbus as a full service outsource contract, has provided the UK MOD with a suite of highly robust, reliable and secure military communications services, supporting global operations since 2003. Airbus has been involved in SKYNET since 1974 and remains firmly committed to supporting a strong military space manufacturing and services capability in the UK. In July 2020 Airbus was awarded the contract to design and build the SKYNET 6A satellite to supplement the existing SKYNET 5 fleet of four satellites and enhance the UK’s milsatcoms capability.

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