Airbus Defence and Space has been ordered by the UK Government to reposition one of the Skynet 5 satellites to deliver military satellite communications (satcom) over the Asia-Pacific region from mid-2015.
The company will move Skynet 5A satellite from its current 6° East position over Europe, the Middle East and Africa to its new 97° East location, making Skynet X-band secure satcom services available for the first time over the eastern Asia-Pacific region, including Australia.
As part of a multi-million pound investment, the company will also build a ground station in Australia.
UK Defence Minister Philip Dunne said: "This is the first time that we have had a secure communications capability in the region, and shows the depth of our commitment to our allies and partners in the region, including Malaysia, in humanitarian and peacekeeping operations."
Airbus Defence and Space Intelligence and Security Communications head Evert Dudok said: "The move of Skynet 5A will enhance MILSATCOM capabilities where our customers need it, offering unique solutions for international security and humanitarian missions, and other coalition operations."
The move aims to meet increased demand from government customers for high throughput secure X-band communications in the region, in addition to enhancing global coverage by extending the new coverage from 178 West to 165 East.
In addition, the repositioning represents significant export opportunities for Britain as any spare communication capacity will be sold.
Under a private finance initiative with the UK Ministry of Defence, Airbus owns and operates the Skynet X-band satellite constellation of eight satellites and the ground network to provide all beyond line of sight communications to the UK Armed Forces.
The contract also enables other Nato and allied governments to use the Skynet system to augment their existing communication services.
Skynet claims to be world’s only commercially owned military satcom system. It provides secure satcom services on X-band, a frequency band resilient to signal interference by precipitation, and primarily reserved for military and government users.
Image: The UK Government has ordered Airbus to move Skynet 5A satellite to Asia-Pacific region. Photo: courtesy of UK Ministry of Defence / Crown copyright.