The Ministry of Defence has extended a deal with EADS, to use a fourth satellite that will provide communications and data to troops in the field. The total value of the deal is now £3.5 billion.
Under the Skynet 5 project, which has already seen three EADS satellites launched, the MoD does not own the systems. Instead, it is a Private Finance Initiative, between the MoD and EADS subsidiary Paradigm, which provides the communications services.
Today, the MoD added £400 million of communications services over an additional two years, to 2022.
The Private Finance Initiative is partly funded by selling spare bandwidth to "friendly" forces. EADS, the parent company, is responsible for constructing the satellites, which will be used by the Army, Navy and Royal Air Force.
Construction will take place at EADS sites in Portsmouth and Stevenage, securing 800 high tech jobs and creating 100 new jobs over the next four years.
The government has said the communications systems are “hardened” for military use, the BBC reported, in order to resist any hacking or “jamming” attempts.
Quentin Davies, minister for defence equipment and support, said at the contract signing today that it was crucial the new deal protected “important” technology jobs.
“Future operations require that our armed forces are given access to the best possible communications and this new satellite will go a long way to ensuring this,” he added.
Meanwhile, the government is reportedly planning to sign other defence contracts. This week the Conservatives accused it of attempting to rush through a £1 billion, ten-year contract for defence logistics software.
In January, the Ministry of Defence extended a contract with HP, formerly EDS, on the Defence Information Infrastructure project, taking the value to approximately £8 billion. The scheme is aimed at providing a single information and communications platform to the MoD, partly by supplying hand held terminals to 300,000 forces personnel around the world.