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MINISTRY OF DEFENCE 217/97 December 16, 1997 UK, FRANCE AND GERMANY JOIN FORCES FOR NEW GENERATION OF SATELLITES The United Kingdom, France and Germany have signed an agreement which could lead to a joint programme of military satellites for the new millennium. The Memorandum of Understanding covers the joint Project Definition phase for a future military satellite communications system. The joint programme is known as TRIMILSATCOM. The intention is to let two parallel competitive study contracts to the anticipated European prime contractors, Alcatal and Matra-Marconi Space; each of the three partner nations' industries will be equitably involved. After completion of these studies, it is planned that a prime contractor will then be selected for the implementation of the whole system, and a new MoU will be signed between the nations to cover this phase. The system needs to enter service in the middle of the next decade, to guarantee continuity of military satellite communications services. Military satellite communications are essential for all aspects of modern defence, particularly in view of the increasing importance of information availability to the success of military operations, on land, sea and in the air. The new system will support military requirements for survivable high data-rate communications within and between operational theatres, and offer interoperability with allies. The TRIMILSATCOM programme involves in particular the joint development, manufacture and launch of a constellation of geostationary satellites. The ownership and use of the constellation will be shared between the partner nations. The programme also includes joint management and control, together with the appropriate user terminal development and ground station facilities. The use of commercial services, which may be efficient for certain operations, will also be studied during the Project Definition phase. For the current phase of the programme, the partner nations have decided to set up a joint project management team, manned by all three nations, and have agreed on a common procurement strategy focused on competition. It is planned that the new Joint Organisation for Armaments Cooperation (OCCAR) will take on management responsibility for the implementation phase of the programme. The possibility of other nations and NATO involvement in the programme is being explored under EUMILSATCOM arrangements, covering Belgium, Canada, Italy, the Netherlands and Spain. NOTES TO EDITORS 1. The requirement for UK military satellite communications is currently met by the SKYNET 4 Stage 1 system which consists of three Super High Frequency/Ultra High Frequency (SHF/UHF) satellites and an associated UK ground segment which provides satellite control and communications management facilities. These are currently being replaced by three new SKYNET 4 Stage 2 satellites, which in turn will require replacement in the middle of the next decade. The programme to provide these replacements is known as SKYNET 5. 2. Feasibility Studies (FS) for a number of collaborative approaches aimed at exploring the practicalities of meeting the SKYNET 5 requirement took place between 1993 and 1996. The next stage is Project Definition (PD), at the completion of which the project will move into implementation, the design and construction of the satellites and their associated ground equipment, and the launch of the space vehicles. 3. From early on in the SKYNET 5 programme, discussions took place with other nations concerning the scope for international collaboration. Those with France were known as BIMILSATCOM; with the addition of Germany, the initiative became TRIMILSATCOM. The negotiations covering TRIMILSTACOM PD began in early 1996, and were successfully completed in November 1997. 4. The complete TRIMILSATCOM programme envisages the joint development, manufacture and launch of at least four Super High Frequency(SHF)/Extremely High Frequency(EHF) satellites, together with the upgrading of user terminal and ground station facilities in each country. 5. TRIMILSATCOM PD envisages two parallel competitive studies being carried out by two separate industrial groupings. These will investigate a range of options for fulfilling the trinational requirements, including both paper studies and the development of key items of technology to investigate their applicability to proposed solutions. At the end of the PD phase, priced bids for the implementation contract will be sought. 6. Two industrial groupings have been formed, each led by a Prime Contractor, with whom the actual PD contracts will be placed. One is led by the French company Alacatel, the other by the Anglo-French firm Matra-Marconi Space (MMS). 7. At the conclusion of PD, the two Prime Contractors will submit bids for the implementation phase. The MoU for this phase will be negotiated during the second half of the PD period between the governments wishing to continue in the cooperative programme. 8. It is currently envisaged that implementation will be on the basis of down-selecting the bid from the PD contractor that offers the best value for money, but it is possible that new bids may be invited should it appear advantageous to do so.