EDA’s coordination of secure satellite capacities lies with its Governmental Satellite Communications (GOVSATCOM) project, whose roots stretch back to 2014 when the Agency’s constituency of national Ministries of Defence gave thenod for this ground-breaking work to begin. After several years of planning and coordination, during which the Agency garnered the Govsatcom operational needs of military and civil actors for national and CSDP operations, EDA and its participating MemberStates in 2017 mapped out ‘EDA GOVSATCOM’ as a demonstration project. Known as ‘GSC Demo’, it got off the ground with its initial three-year execution phase, starting in January 2019.
Ultimate example of pooling & sharing
EDA GOVSATCOM is the ultimate example of pooling & sharing between national capitals – hard to find a larger scale of ambition than space! Basically, it involves a small core of EDA countries pooling their national military or othergovernment-owned satellite infrastructure to provide the secure use by a larger number of Member States and institutional stakeholders. “Pooling-and-sharing is based on the pay-per-use principle with no binding financial commitments upfront forthe participants beyond the requested Govsatcom services. Contributing Member States also benefit from extensive EDA support throughout the service”, said Heinrich Krispler, EDA’s Project Officer GOVSATCOM.
“The benefit forour Member States is that we do most of the tedious footwork, making it much easier and faster for them to get the satellite support they need. It means they don’t have to deal on their own with heavy or slow procurement arrangements,” addedHolger Lueschow, Programme Manager for EDA’s Satellite Communication activities. “That radically simplifies the process of gaining access to satellite capacities for a military. Obviously, those who have signed up to each [activity] get easyaccess to both commercial and govsat services.”
Seven suppliers, many beneficiaries
GSC Demo is currently composed of 17 Member States, of which seven (Luxembourg, France, Germany, Spain, Portugal, Greece,Italy) belong to the suppliers of the pooled governmental satellite communication services. Services include space capacity leasing, anchoring, backhauling, satellite ground terminals (terrestrial, airborne, seaborne) lease services and associated servicessuch as technical support, engineering support, transport, logistic and training. They cover Continental Europe, Africa, Middle East, the Indian Ocean, the Mediterranean Sea as well as the Atlantic Ocean partially.
Its membership also includesthe European Peace Facility, the EU’s new €5billion fund to help shore up the security of weak or failed states, particularly in Africa where more than half a dozen CSDP missions now operate. Secure and robust Satellite communication servicesare essential in such parts of the world for mission headquarters, VSAT ground terminals, satellite-based phones and geo-location devices that track the whereabouts of forces and equipment, for example.
So far, the GSC Demo has generated ordersworth well in excess of €1 million. These included two years of national support to establish communication lines within a Member State (wich started in 2019) and a service request in September 2020 to test the readiness and interoperability of theSatCom assets of another Member State’s navy prior to deployment under Operation IRINI, the EU’s CSDP mission in the Mediterranean to enforce the UN arms embargo against Libya.
More recently, in March 2021, yet another Member State(see interview in text box below) initiated a long-term service request for the project to support its national training and military exercises, and help prepare and train personnel for CSDP missions.