back to article BT and Serco among bidders competing to run Britain's unfortunately named Skynet military satellite system

The UK Ministry of Defence has shortlisted BT, Serco, Babcock and Airbus in the bidding for its £6bn Skynet satellite project. Whoever wins the MoD's six-year Skynet 6 Private Finance Initiative (PFI) contract will find themselves operating and maintaining Britain's military satellites – including the vital changeover phase in …

  1. El blissett

    Tactical Networking? Thought that was when you use black velcro to hold a broken cable in.

    1. BebopWeBop

      As far as the UK government, velcro is strategic, sticky tape or blue tack if available are tactical.

  2. choleric

    A stroke of pure genius

    This is absolutely how to defeat the rise of the machines. Put Skynet in the hands of the British military and BT and/or Airbus and/or Serco. Superbly well played. Human intelligence at its finest.

    Chronically underfunded, with an aversion to deploying fast anything, at the mercy of several European governments, and with a predeliction for operational missteps, it will never work.

    1. macjules
      Black Helicopters

      Re: A stroke of pure genius

      This is that Serco we are talking about? The company that can not even manage to track prisoners on parole, can not deliver the track and trace and routinely falls under criminal investigation?

      Somehow I might trust TalkTalk to run the satellite network better.

  3. sanmigueelbeer Silver badge

    it will never work

    You are such a pessimist. </joke>

    And what happens in IBM or Capita is involved?

    1. Evil Harry

      "And what happens in IBM or Capita is involved?"

      It'll be more expensive and still not work!

  4. BebopWeBop

    while warning MPs [PDF, 3 pages] of "the level of risk against achieving the demanding schedule for the delivery of SKYNET 6A with a Planning Assumption for Service Entry of Q2 2025."

    And so Serco become a preferred bidder? Has anyone in Westminster paid any attention? I suppose I should be grateful that G4S and Crapita are not on the list.....

  5. Saruman the White Silver badge

    Skynet not Terminator

    Lets just be clear here - Skynet is the series of MoD Satcom platforms that dates right back to the early 1970's - way, way before Arnie got into his Terminator suite. Apparently the film makers were looking for a nifty name and thought that they had come up with one that no-one had every thought of, only realising their mistake after the film was released and someone pointed this out to them!

    Also Skynet was the first military satcom system; up until it was launched everyone (i.e. the Americans) had been saying that the military had no need for satcom. Skynet-1 was so successful that the critics shut up immediately - the rest, as they say, is history.

    1. Stumpy

      Re: Skynet not Terminator

      But they were only shut up after Skynet sent a T5000 back through a future wormhole to actually shut them up permanently...

    2. John Sager

      Re: Skynet not Terminator

      I vaguely remember going to a lecture on Skynet-1 in the 70s. I think it used spread spectrum to multiplex the users of the transponder. Each user got 2400 bits/sec. At the time we were using 300bits/sec dial-up to our data centre for software development so that sounded like a really good deal!

      1. Saruman the White Silver badge

        Re: Skynet not Terminator

        Skynet did not, but there was a spread-spectrum modem used by the navy that should have provided up to 10 users with a nearly jam-proof 2k4 bps over the same spectrum allocation. I seem to remember that it was developed by BAe. Not surprisingly they managed to screw up the spreading codes so that any more than 2 users sharing the same spreading code resulted in everyone being jammed.

        BTW, those modems have long ago been withdrawn from service.

    3. Cuddles Silver badge

      Re: Skynet not Terminator

      "Lets just be clear here - Skynet is the series of MoD Satcom platforms that dates right back to the early 1970's - way, way before Arnie got into his Terminator suite."

      From the article:

      "All these mentions of Skynet, satellites, cybersecurity, and AI will probably remind readers of Arnie Schwarzenegger's most famous film role. But don't forget, Skynet dates back to the 1960s as a UK defence project."

  6. Charles Smith

    Wot no Hawaii?

    Surely Hawaii should be part of the consortium?

    1. Hans Neeson-Bumpsadese Silver badge

      Re: Wot no Hawaii?

      This is Skynet 6 - I think they be better suited to 5.0

      1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Re: Wot no Hawaii?

        Muldar: Book 'em Dana - And keep watching the skies!

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Lockheed Martin?

    I thought they'd been told they were off limits for 5 years from MoD spend due to the Warrior fiasco?

    1. Chris G Silver badge

      Re: Lockheed Martin?

      With Lockheed and Serco operating together, prices will spiral without any visible progress, the more important a detail is,the more likely Serco will lose/break/leave it on a bus/or screw it up in some ludicrous manner.

      Also forget about true security and sovereignty, I suspect everything Lockheed does is fully open to US TLAs scrutiny.

  8. Saruman the White Silver badge

    This is only the spacecraft procurement

    Keep in mind that this is only the procurement of the spacecraft and TT&C infrastructure; this is not a full-blown PFI job like the one that one G. Brown forced on the MoD for Skynet-5. That went so well that the MoD are not even thinking about going down that route again - ever!

  9. wyatt

    Chuckle, I worked at Oakhanger when Paradigm Serco started to manage Skynet 4/5. The same people were in charge that were there when the RAF ran it. They just left and went to work for Serco. I imagine the same still happens, they get Tupe'd between companies.

    Many who pick up government contracts couldn't tie their own shoelaces but there must be some that do a reasonable job, we just never hear about them.

    1. Chris 239

      "some that do a reasonable job" um..., maybe the office cleaner?

      1. wyatt

        Interesting you mention the cleaner, he was also at uni doing a fashion degree and then quit his job. He re-appeared a few months later as a network designer, in the office he use to clean..

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