On 12 April 2010 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 program. 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.
With the SATCOMBw Stage 2 program, the German Armed Forces for the first time had their own dedicated telecommunications satellites. COMSATBw-1, launched in October 2009, had been undergoing in-orbit testing and was joined by its fellow satellite COMSATBw-2. Both satellites, designed for an operational lifetime of 15 years, 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.”
On October 30, 2015 OHB System AG was awarded a contract by the Federal Republic of Germany represented by the Federal Office of Bundeswehr Equipment, Information Technology and In-Service Support (BAAINBw) to expand the capabilities of the SATCOM anchor station in Gerolstein with the addition of UHF-DAMA (Ultra High Frequency-Demand Assigned Multiple Access) functionality. The system to be implemented enhances the existing UHF-DAMA control station at the SATCOM anchor station in Kastellaun for the requirements-based allocation of UHF resources to the German federal armed forces’ own geostationary satellites COMSATBw 1 and 2.
With the SATCOMBw programme, the German Armed Forces owns a secure information network for use by units on deployed missions. This will allow voice and fax as well as advanced data, video and multimedia applications. For the first time the Bundeswehr has a secure communications system with dedicated military communications satellites.
Airbus Defence and Space was prime contractor of the space segment, which is composed of two satellites and based on a Spacebus platform. The first satellite was launched in autumn 2009, the second in spring 2010, both on board an Ariane 5 from the European space centre in Kourou, French Guiana. Along with the in-orbit delivery of two communications satellites (COMSATBw 1 & 2) for operations in military frequencies (SHF/UHF) and the provision of additional commercial capacity in Ku- and C-band, the SATCOMBw Stage 2 contract includes the COMSATBw operation, the delivery of a comprehensive ground user terminal segment (fixed and transportable equipment) and upgrading the network management center already installed with the Bundeswehr.
Both SATCOMBw satellites are positioned in geostationary orbit and provide communication services over an area stretching from America to eastern Asia, during their operational life of 15 years. The German space agency (DLR) assumes responsibility under a MilSat Services subcontract for operating the two satellites using several of its locations. In addition to that DLR channels important parts of the user traffic via its ground installations.
The contract runs for 10 years and there is an option to extend it for a further seven and a half years. The customer is the Federal Office for Information Management and Information Technology of the Bundeswehr (IT-AmtBw). The contractor is MilSat Services GmbH based in Bremen, which is owned by Airbus Defence and Space (74.9%) and the Friedrichshafen satellite network specialist ND SatCom (25.1%). The planned implementation was ready to commence on Wednesday, November 11, 2015. With the additional UHF-DAMA control station in Gerolstein, OHB System AG in its capacity as prime contractor and systems manager is providing the German federal armed forces with crucial functionality, thus ensuring command and communications capabilities in the field.
“The project for the addition of the UHF-DAMA component to the anchor station is of strategic importance for OHB. We would like to additionally expand our expertise in the area of satellite ground systems and market our capabilities as a systems provider on a global level,” says Management Board member, Frank Negretti, who is responsible for terrestrial applications.
The UHF-DAMA control station secures the UHF service and will form an integral part of the large ground station in Gerolstein. Systems management will be implemented centrally in Rheinbach via the management communications network. The new facility at the satellite control center entails an exterior unit with two antennas, the technical and operations containers including infrastructure and the specific DAMA components as well as remote monitoring and control facilities from the operations room of the large ground station in Gerolstein and the headquarters in Rheinbach.
The equipment to be installed at the control station in Gerolstein will permit the simultaneous operation of all UHF transponders fitted to the COMSATBw satellites in combination with the existing control station in Kastellaun. The two antennas of the satellite control station are fitted with manual alignment facilities. In this way, the satellites of allied partners on the visible geostationary orbit can be operated alongside the German federal armed forces’ own satellites.
|Join the GlobalSecurity.org mailing list|