Airbus and Northrop Grumman have signed a memorandum of understanding to develop updated military satellite communications for the UK’s SKYNET program.
The partnership will focus on improving the satellite system’s space-based communications, increasing the data collected and disseminated.
SKYNET currently consists of seven satellites operated by Airbus Defence and Space on behalf of the UK Ministry of Defence, utilizing its capabilities for the Armed Forces and British intelligence agencies.
The output will be a part of the Ministry of Defence’s Future Beyond Line of Sight Satellite Communications program to sustain advanced strategic communications for the UK through 2041.
Catching Up in Space
UK Chairman of Airbus Defence and Space Ben Bridge expressed the importance of collaborating with Northrop to advance the UK’s space technologies in a constantly developing industry.
“Partnering with Northrop Grumman will enable us to address the evolving requirements of Britain’s military satellite communications’ needs, and we believe our joint expertise offers the very best capabilities for the UK, now and in the future,” he said.
“This transatlantic collaboration builds on the strong Airbus and Northrop Grumman relationship and further unites UK, European and American interests in space.”
The UK’s recent push for more secure military communication networks comes amid increasing aerospace activity in other nations.
In August, China reportedly deployed “hundreds” of satellites to monitor two military exercises involving Australia and the US, the UK’s partners in the trilateral AUKUS alliance.
The US considers China its biggest strategic competitor in space, acknowledging its growing presence in the military space race.