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Airbus secures contract for next-generation military satellite system

Airbus has secured a major contract with the German armed forces, Bundeswehr, for the military’s next-generation secure military satellite system.

The SATCOMBw 3 prime contract, announced on 4 July, includes the system, geostationary satellites as well as ground segment, launch and operation for 15 years.

The spacecraft are due to be deployed before the end of the decade and the contract value amounts to €2.1 billion (AU$3.36 billion).

The contract covers the design, integration, test and in-orbit delivery of two new Airbus-built military GEO telecommunications satellites which are the successor communications satellites to COMSATBw 1B and 2B.


It also includes upgrading the existing ground segment to operate the new satellites as well as operational services for 15 years, with the possibility of extension.

“After the success of the SATCOMBw Stage 2 program, which we have been delivering since 2009, this latest contract reinforces our strategic partnership with the Bundeswehr, providing them with a greatly enhanced secure MILSATCOM capability that is future-proofed into the 2040s,” Airbus Defence and Space chief executive officer Michael Schoellhorn said.

“At a time when Western democracies are challenged and where the European institutional space ecosystem is struggling, we are excited and grateful to develop and build this leading-edge system.

“Long-term partnerships are crucial to guaranteeing essential sovereignty and capability and protecting our armed forces in the increasingly unstable geopolitical environment.”


The new-generation Airbus satellites are based on the Eurostar Neo platform and will weigh around six metric tonnes. The satellites will have extensive capabilities to keep pace with the rapid changes in digitalisation, constantly increasing volume of data transfer required and will feature the latest state-of-the-art technologies, according to the company.

The overall contract will reportedly include German value chain partners as Bremen-based OHB and numerous smaller German companies.

Central elements include the guidance and integration of the advanced payloads, the solar arrays, and overall operation of the spacecraft will be from Germany.

The Bundeswehr’s satellite communications system (SATCOMBw) is considered indispensable for autonomous and independently deployable communications and information services.

It is designed to ensure the global command and information capability of the German armed forces, such as operational contingents and special forces. The SATCOMBw 3 project also aims to ensure that NATO’s North Atlantic Treaty Organisation commitments in the area will continue to be met in the future. With SATCOMBw 3, the Bundeswehr is responding to increased user requirements.

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