Satcom capabilities are scarce and require significant public investment by Member States. In December 2013, the European Council decided to address critical capability shortfalls through concrete projects supported by EDA. On satellite communications, this is related to the preparation of the next generation of Governmental Satellite Communications (GovSatcom) through close cooperation between the Member States, the European Commission and the European Space Agency (ESA).
The European Defence Agency proposed a sequential approach, consisting of a first step dedicated to addressing user needs and to identifying the technical, system and mission requirements. EDA, together with all involved parties, will landscape and assess the ability of various solutions to fulfill these requirements and finally develop the appropriate framework including governance issues, concept of operations and cooperation framework.
In this context, EDA gathered the initial satellite communication needs for European military actors involved in the conduct of national or CSDP operations. These requirements were endorsed by the EDA Steering Board in November 2014. In parallel, the European Commission is currently performing a similar exercise for the civil sector.
With this feasibility study, the EDA aims at developing technical and mission requirements and to assess various solutions addressing those needs. ESA supports both initiatives with its background and expertise in satellite communications to develop the appropriate system requirements, candidate architectures and technology developments.
The GovSatcom initiative also has to consider how to setup a future programme, and thus its potential governance framework, especially taking into account the number of interested parties involved (Member States, EDA, the European Commission, the European External Action Service, the European Space Agency).
By the end of 2016, EDA will provide proposals of a future collaborative programme towards the development of a GovSatcom capability in Europe. Through close cooperation with the European Commission, the European Defence Agency will also foster civil-military synergies so that a common solution can address governmental Satcom demands for security and defence. The aim of the GovSatcom initiative is to provide its Member States and European actors with appropriate capabilities through an innovative and sustainable cooperation model. It further signals a new partnership not only between military and civil institutional actors, but also with industry in order to better contribute to the competitiveness of Europe.