Ministry of Defence
213/98 12 August 1998


The United Kingdom is to develop its own next generation of military
satellite communications, rather than enter the Project Definition
stage of the TRIMILSATCOM collaborative programme with France and
Germany, Lord Gilbert, Minister of State for Defence Procurement'
announced today. The UK will now concentrate on a national solution.

Lord Gilbert said:

"The UK has been considering a range of procurement options for
meeting our SKYNET 5 requirement for future military satellite
communications. We have been keen to investigate the scope for
collaboration with our allies on this important new programme. For
some time this was our preferred option.

"However, we have now completed our evaluation of a range of
industrial proposals, including both collaborative and national
options. It unfortunately appears that, crucially, we will be unable
to rely with assurance on collaborative processes being able to meet
the UK's needs with respect to an In Service Date before our existing
satellites go out of service.

"We remain strong supporters of collaboration in the field of
equipment procurement and a decision not to pursue a major programme
like this is not taken lightly. We will continue to work alongside
France and Germany in the new European armaments agency, OCCAR, as
well as on a wide range of existing programmes, and will be exploring
other potential collaborative programmes in future."


The United Kingdom, France and Germany signed a Memorandum of
Understanding in December 1997 following which two tri-national
consortia, led by Alcatel and Matra-Marconi Space, submitted bids for
Project Definition work. In parallel, the United Kingdom sought and
received Project Definition bids for a national programme from Matra-
Marconi Space and from British Aerospace, teamed with Lockheed