With today's signature of a framework contract between the European Defence Agency (EDA) and Astrium Services, five Member States - France, Italy, Poland, Romania and the United Kingdom - benefit from pooled procurement of commercial satellite communications (SatCom) services. The advantages of the European Satellite Communications Procurement Cell (ESCPC) are convincing: reduced costs and easy access. The initial investment (2.3 million Euro) will allow the ESCPC to deliver concrete satellite capacities in the upcoming months.
In military operations satellite communications are fundamental for Communication, Command and Control. They also allow operational effectiveness of Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance platforms, including Remotely Piloted Aircraft. Member States often resort to commercial SatCom either to complement similar military capabilities or as the sole means to effectively conduct military operations. The EDA ESCPC aims at pooling commercial SatCom demand from a number of EU national defence departments, reducing costs by around 10 per cent.
“The overall aim of the ESCPC is to overcome fragmented procurement of commercial SatCom capacity in order to reduce costs, promote ease of access and improve efficiency to deliver a better connectivity to armed forces of the EU Member States.” said Claude-France Arnould, EDA Chief Executive, after signing the framework contract with Astrium Services.
Pooling and sharing of commercial satellite communications
ESCPC is a good example of an EDA project delivering services to improve EU defence capabilities. As an implementation of the Effective Procurement Method promoted by the Agency, the ESCPC can for instance support outsourced logistic services backing any national, EU-led or coalition operation. The ESCPC is linked to the Third Party Logistics Support Platform, allowing for a more cost effective access to logistic support.
Cooperation with Astrium Services
With the signature of the three years framework contract, Astrium Services will act as a one-stop-shop. It will serve as contractual, commercial and operational interface towards SatCom operators, providing the participating Member States with commercial bands (C, Ku and Ka).
MILSATCOM: Savings in the order of one billion Euro
ESCPC is a first and short-term step to improve SatCom capability for European defence. But Europe now also has the opportunity to cooperate to replace the existing national-based military satellite communications (MILSATCOM) capacities. In this respect EDA proposes the concept of Secure Telecom by Satellite (SECTELSAT) – a cooperative approach inspired by the Pooling and Sharing initiative. The initiative foresees a scheme in which MILSATCOM operating Nations will: Pool MILSATCOM assets with other operating Nations for mutual benefits (increased coverage and operational flexibility); Share MILSATCOM capacities by giving access for non-MILSATCOM Nations under defined conditions; Contribute to a European MILSATCOM capability package for the CSDP. Through this scheme, European Member States could save around one billion Euro stemming from synergies in research and technology investments, acquisition of recurring assets and standardised operations. “Today’s defence budgets are under severe pressure. The EDA offers European Member States a cost effective solution. I think this is an opportunity we should grasp.” concluded Claude-France Arnould.