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Shadow Defence Ministers visit Airbus Portsmouth to celebrate British built space success

Portsmouth South MP and Shadow Armed Forces Minister Stephen Morgan was joined by Labour’s Defence Spokesperson in the House of Lords, Lord Vernon Coaker, to visit Airbus’ facility in Portsmouth, the city’s major space hub.

Airbus builds and operates the UK’s military satellite communications system, providing unjammable mobile voice, video, internet and broadcast services to the country’s armed forces.

Delivered through the Skynet 5 constellation of four satellites, these services are also used by other militaries and governments, including NATO and the US. A new Skynet 6A satellite will be built in Portsmouth and its sister site, Stevenage, over the coming years.

Portsmouth is home to the UK’s largest clean room complex and anechoic chamber, where payloads for space and satellites systems are assembled and tested.

Airbus has racked up an accumulated 1,400 years in orbit since 1965 and every TV and satellite broadcast in the UK is served by one of their satellites.

Airbus employs more than 1,100 people in Portsmouth and takes on around ten apprentices each year in the city, offering them degree level qualifications alongside practical training.

The two Labour representatives toured facilities before sitting down with senior representatives of the company and trade unions.

Stephen Morgan, Portsmouth South MP and Shadow Armed Forces Minister, said:

“Airbus are pioneers of British-built success in space, defence and commercial aviation.

“The next era of space technology is not just about our national defence and research, it’s also about the creation and maintenance of high-skilled, well-paid jobs in Portsmouth and across the country.

“Ministers must prioritise investment in companies like Airbus if we are to truly level up all regions and nations of the UK, and that should start here in Portsmouth”.

Jo Sawford, Airbus Portsmouth Site Director, said:

“We are delighted to welcome Stephen and Lord Coaker to our site.

“We are incredibly proud of what we do in Portsmouth, contributing to hundreds of millions of pounds worth of UK exports, and supporting the UK’s armed forces through manufacturing the world-leading Skynet system.”