Communicate, Connect and Protect with Skynet

This year Skynet 50 celebrate 50 years of innovation as we commemorate the 50th anniversary of the launch of Skynet 1A

Providing strategic communication services to the British Armed Forces and UK allies, Skynet is a  fleet of military communication satellites. Previously operated by the Royal Air Force, Skynet has been operated by Airbus on behalf of the UK Ministry of Defence since 24th October 2003.

Skynet 1A was the first Skynet military communications satellite. It launched on 22nd November 1969 onboard a DELTA M, launching from Cape Canaveral in Florida, USA. It was later joined by Skynet 1B, which launched on 19th August 1970. Skynet 1A and Skynet 1B, known collectively as Skynet 1, formed together the first generation of the Skynet satellite constellations.

Since 1969, three further generations of Skynet have been introduced. These include Skynet 2, Skynet 4 and Skynet 5, totalling 14 satellites. Over the past 50 years the Skynet constellations have facilitated secure communication links for international military operations; connecting and protecting armed forces on a global scale. On average today, 900MHz of Skynet X-band capacity is provided to customers per month.

Skynet 50 is recognition of Skynet’s golden jubilee of service. Recognising the hard work and determination of the teams who have pushed the boundaries of military satellite communications (MilSatCom) innovation.

50 years of innovation

Putting collaboration and customer focus at its heart, Airbus has been committed to the Skynet programme for 50 years with work in all Skynet generations. From specialised payload development, to spacecraft manufacture and system prime. Since the original launch in 1969, each Skynet generation has advanced on the one before. Nowadays, Skynet delivers 60 GBps of external connectivity across key Skynet sites for backhaul and other services. On average 2,000 customer service requests are processed per year.

Skynet 5 is the most recent generation of the Skynet family and became operational in 2007. The Skynet 5 constellation consists of the world’s most powerful, nuclear hardened and protected X-band and UHF satellites. Delivering resilience, reliability and security, over the years Skynet has introduced pioneering capabilities and will continue to do so beyond 2019.


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