The EDA GOVSATCOM Demo Ad-Hoc Working Group will meet this week to further proceed with the Project Arrangement detailing the rules and procedures of the Governmental Satellite Communications (GOVSATCOM) Pooling and Sharing demonstration project. Additionally, Member States have recently agreed for the EDA to conclude an Implementing Arrangement with the European Space Agency (ESA) on their cooperation for GOVSATCOM. This Arrangement will maximise synergies between the activities of the two Agencies to support the European Commission in its efforts for preparing an EU GOVSATCOM initiative.
The EU GOVSATCOM initiative aims to provide EU Member States, organisations and operators with assured satellite communication services by 2020. As part of the programme, the European Space Agency (ESA) this week contracted Airbus to produce a demonstrator providing a technical solution for secured interconnections between different SatCom architectures and users.
This demonstrator contract follows on from two design studies running between 2015 and 2017 on behalf of the ESA and EDA respectively. The studies served to define and quantify the nature of the European governmental users’ needs and assess the various technologies and architectures of the GOVSATCOM programme, as well as the advantages of the ‘pooling and sharing’ model.
The GOVSATCOM programme will initially focus on the pooling and sharing of communication capabilities provided by governmental satellites and commercial operator satellites already in orbit. In June 2017, 14 EDA Member States (Austria, Belgium, Estonia, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Poland, Portugal, Spain, Sweden and the United Kingdom) and Norway agreed to develop a demonstrator for pooling and sharing satellite communication capabilities.
Reliable, stable and secure communications are crucial in any CSDP mission or operation. Yet, terrestrial network infrastructures are not available everywhere, for instance in areas hit by natural disasters, at sea, in the air or in hostile zones. Satellite communications (SATCOM) can be the solution: rapidly deployable, flexible and distance insensitive, they offer communication links where terrestrial networks are damaged, overloaded or non-existent.
However, access to SATCOM cannot be taken for granted at any time, especially not when government users require them at short notice and without pre-arranged agreements. In situations of high demand, competition with other users of commercial SATCOM capacities creates a risk of non-availability and high costs. Against this backdrop, EU leaders decided in 2013 that there was a need for a new solution combining the advantages of commercial and military satellite systems in order to address both civil and military needs through European cooperation. The European Defence Agency, in collaboration with the European Commission and the European Space Agency, is now preparing the next generation of GOVSATCOM.
GOVSATCOM will be a capability that is placed in between the commercial satellite communication market and the highly protected military satellite communication capability.