Skynet 5 satellite
Airbus said in March that it Skynet 5 satellite. Credit: U.S. Navy

PARIS — Airbus Defense and Space on July 24 said it has begun moving the Skynet 5A military telecommunications satellite from its 6 degrees east slot to 94.8 degrees east over the Asia Pacific, where it is expected to begin operations late this year.

The move will extend Airbus’s military telecommunications reach in X- and UHF-band to a near-global coverage. The company owns the eight Skynet satellites and leases a large portion of their capacity to the British government under a long-term contract.

Once the contract is ended, the Skynet spacecraft revert to British government ownership under the terms of the contract, despite the fact that Airbus financed their development and launch. The contract continues until at least 2022.

In combination with French and Italian capacity, Airbus also provides the NATO alliance with satellite communications under a multi-year lease.

In addition to the Skynet satellites, Airbus owns the X-band payload aboard Canada-based Telesat’s Anik G1 satellite at 107.3 degrees west, covering the Americas and the eastern Pacific Ocean region.

Peter B. de Selding was the Paris bureau chief for SpaceNews.