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British military leases new network satellite

Instead of buying a satellite for military applications - lease one.
Written by Doug Hanchard, Contributor on

In England, the cost of internet access varies. £20 to £30 is the norm. With that you can surf the world. With the government's launch and mandatory tax on phone service which will help pay for the broadband plan which will offer networking of rich multimedia content and services.

But if you are procurement team in charge of the military and you have multiple tasks that are never in a fixed location and need services such as encrypted communications, management of military systems and platforms like UAV's and smart weapons, the challenge is managing those services at a reasonable cost and being deployable anywhere in the world. One way is to lease bandwidth with a private contractor, which is how the Ministry of Defence has decided to procure its needs. The satellite company then leases out to other friendly nations (such as NATO members) spare network capacity.

In a MoD press release by the ministry:

  • The Skynet 5D which is the fourth satellite of its kind to be used by the MoD  is roughly three times the length of a double decker bus and will be launched in 2013 playing a key role in gathering intelligence on operations. The satellite will also be used to provide the telephone and internet welfare support facilities for Service personnel on operations.
  • Under the PFI deal, the MOD is buying satellite services, not the satellites. The overall PFI programme is now worth about £3.5Bn over its planned duration, which will be at least until 2022.
  • The latest contract extension with Paradigm will cost the MOD over £400M which will cover the satellite services provided and will fall within the overall cost of the programme.
  • Paradigm are the owners and operators of the satellites and provide the service to the MOD.
  • Paradigm is able to market any unutilised (by MOD) capacity under the important third party sales element of the deal.
  • The Skynet PFI arrangement is with Paradigm Secure Communications Limited. Other companies are Serco, Logica, EADS Astrium and EADS Defence and Security. Paradigm's parent company is EADS (European Aeronautic Defence and Space).

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