Finland interested in satellite surveillance of crisis areas
EU countries examine possibility of cooperation in military use of satellite services
Finland is interested in a project by the European Defence Agency (EDA) to assess the possibilities of using commercial satellite services in crisis management operations.
Such a move would be a part of efforts in which the EU countries are looking for ways to save money on defence spending by developing joint military capabilities.
“The idea is that a joint purchase from a commercial operator, custs costs”, says Sanna Laaksonen, a special expert at the Ministry of Defence. The total cost is estimated at between EUR 10 and EUR 20 million a year.
In practice the project would involve a broadband connection relayed via satellite, which would make it possible for military forces in crisis areas to stay in contact with each other and with their staffs.
The connection would form a secure data network for the forces. It could be used to relay satellite images and organise video conferences, among other things.
Taking part in the European Satellite Communications Procurement Cell (ESCPC) project are about five EU countries so far, but others can join later. Current members include France, Italy and the UK.
Sanna Laaksonen says that Finland is examining the possible benefits that ESCPC might have for Finland’s crisis management operations.
“We are not part of the project for now, but we are following it. So far our satellite needs in our crisis management operations have been met by the country that leads the operation.”
The aim is to complete the ongoing pilot project next year. The commercial provider has not been chosen yet.
The aim is first to define the individual needs of each country involved, as well as the special military needs of satellite imaging. In this connection the EU will have to consider issues such as data privacy.
“After that the EDA would probably make a joint acquisition. That is, it would be the negotiating partner.”
The surge in activity by the EU on the matter is based on the publication five years ago of the European space policy, which has also taken into consideration the military use of space.
The European Defence Agency and the European Space Agency (ESA) agreed on closer cooperation last year.
European Space Agency
European Defence Agency (EDA) - European Satellite Communications Procurement Cell (ESCPC)