German Bundeswehr inaugurates SATCOMBw Step 2 operations
On Monday 12 April a telephone conversation – routed via the COMSATBw-1 satellite – took place between two senior German Armed Forces officers, symbolically marking the operational status of the Bundeswehr’s SATCOMBw Step 2 military communications programme.
General Manfred Engelhardt, Chief of the Bundeswehr’s Streitkräfteunterstützungskommando (Joint Support Command), placed the fault-free call to Vice Admiral Wolfgang E. Nolting, Commander of the German Navy, on board the frigate Schleswig-Holstein.
“This is undoubtedly a great step forward,” said a clearly exultant General Engelhardt. “We are now almost entirely independent of the need to have recourse to third parties or foreign resources [for military communications requirements].”
With the SATCOMBw Stage 2 programme, the German Armed Forces have for the first time their own dedicated telecommunications satellites. COMSATBw-1, launched in October 2009, has been undergoing in-orbit testing and will shortly be joined by its fellow satellite COMSATBw-2. Both satellites, designed for an operational lifetime of 15 years, will provide a full range of communications services to meet German requirements.
The SATCOMBw Step 2 programme prime contractor is MilSat Services, the special-purpose joint venture in which Airbus Defence and Space is the majority shareholder. Airbus Defence and Space is responsible for the space segment.
This is a historic moment for the Bundeswehr, said Thomas Schenkel, CEO of MilSat Services: “MilSat Services and Airbus Defence and Space in Ottobrunn are extremely proud to be serving the German Bundeswehr by providing support that the German troops need.”
Photo © Bundeswehr/Thomas Ströter