SkyNet 6 engineering

TP Group began work on the Skynet programme in 2018 to provide decision support and act as Customer Friend on the multi-billion pound Category A Skynet 6A and Skynet Enduring Capability projects, the largest equipment procurement currently being undertaken by the MOD.

Specifically, TP Group were brought in to provide engineering assurance and specialist technical expertise on the most critical element of the satellite procurement – the secure telemetry, tracking and command system (STT&C).

The telemetry, tracking and command system ensures that positive control and remote operation of the satellite can be maintained at all times, and for a military satellite there are a number of additional assured capabilities that are required to make the system “secure” particularly when under stressed conditions, hence the need for an “S”TT&C system.

TP Group experts supported a research study, together with industry partners under an R&D (ASTRID) tasking to develop a set of system requirements that would be used during the various competitions used for the MOD’s next generation satellites (SK6A and SKEC). The study was well-received within the integrated project team and has subsequently been used to de-risk and direct the procurement options used to acquire the STT&C system within the MOD’s next generation of military-grade communications satellites, informing MOD Business Cases and the Senior Responsible Owner of the programme.

TP Group’s expertise in engineering assurance was recognised by the wider Skynet programme and led to the development of their role in now leading all of the engineering, modelling and simulation activities across the ~£2bn Category A Skynet Enduring Capability project.

TP Group have championed the use of architectural and model-based system engineering principles across the programme. A TOGAF-based model has been generated to support the MOD’s SATCOM Reference Architecture, and this is being used more and more to provide decision support to the Defence Digital, STRATCOM and newly-formed Space Command stakeholders.

TP group have also focussed on “capability development”, mentoring the younger engineering professionals on the project, both Crown servant and contractors. Examples of this include the development of subject matter expertise on information exchange requirement analysis, system requirement development and engineering governance.

TP group’s experience has been used to transfer knowledge to the Customer on managing engineering projects in sympathy with MOD processes such as GEAR (Guidance for Engineering Assurance Reviews) , KiD (Knowledge in Defence) and other novel approaches which take into account the novelty to MOD of a space-capability procurement which has not happened for over 20 years.

The Customer has also recognised the contribution of TP group to provide the “soft-skills” to maintain engineering coherence with other parts of the MOD’s C4I systems enterprise, including other beyond line-of-sight and terrestrial communications. This is based on TP group’s experience of delivering decision support consultancy and understanding that a complex project like Skynet EC has many interfaces, assumptions and dependencies that need to be considered at a holistic, system level.

TP group has received much positive feedback from the MOD Customer and the Client Side Support lead contractor on our work. Examples include the successful completion of a Design Assurance Review on the Enduring Capability programme with the Senior Leadership Team : Feedback from the Customer: “ I just wanted to record my thanks for your contribution to (and preparation for) yesterday’s Assurance Review. Superb example of calm presentation and expert knowledge.

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