At a high-level seminar on governmental satellite communication (SATCOM) at the International Paris Airshow “Le Bourget” on 19 June the European Defence Agency (EDA) presented and discussed its “Secure Telecom by Satellite” (SECTELSAT) concept for future governmental SATCOM.
Currently, five European nations operate military satellite communication assets: the United Kingdom, France, Italy, Spain and Germany. In the timeframe 2018-2025 all these assets will need to be replaced. This creates a unique opportunity for Pooling & Sharing this type of satellites which EDA is promoting with its “Secure Telecom by Satellite” (SECTELSAT) concept for a European-wide use of governmental SATCOM. The intergovernmental approach proposed by EDA suggests a cross-use of future governmental assets on a broader basis and significant synergies if future programmes can be coordinated.
“With its European Satellite Communication Procurement Cell (ESCPC), the European Defence Agency has already delivered a concrete Pooling & Sharing tool in the area of commercial satellite communications. Our proposal for governmental SATCOM goes one step further. Pooling & Sharing of critical assets is an opportunity as much as a necessity in times of tight defence budgets and eroding capabilities”, says Claude-France Arnould, Chief Executive of the European Defence Agency, at the opening of the high-level seminar.
Secure Telecom by Satellite
EDA’s concept includes the pooling of future assets with a coordinated approach to collect and harmonise national requirements of EU Member States that operate MILSATCOM, and possibly to pave the way for future cooperative ad hoc programmes. At the same time, it proposes to share future assets by leasing parts of governmental SATCOM for defence and security services to additional Member States (including Norway and Switzerland) with significant requirements. Future assets would also be shared by offering a new capability package that could benefit from EU funding for its internal and external connectivity needs through more resilient networks.
The high-level seminar was divided into an open seminar on SATCOM policies and plans with speakers from the EDA, the EU Military Committee, the European Commission, the European Space Agency, EU Member States and industry representatives. During the closed afternoon session capability planners and governmental SATCOM programme managers discussed the way ahead, an action plan as well as possible Pooling & Sharing options.
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 Systems. In 2012 the Agency launched the European Satellite Communications Procurement Cell (ESCPC) to pool and share commercial satellite communications services. Five Member States (France, Italy, Poland, Romania and the United Kingdom) participate in a framework contract the Agency concluded with Astrium Services to use commercial bands. ESCPC can for instance support outsourced logistic services with the provision of a backbone network for any national, EU-led or coalition operation.