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Airbus wins satellite deal with German military as defence remains a priority

Satellite. Copyright Airbus.
Copyright Airbus.
By Eleanor Butler
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The German army has granted Airbus a contract worth €2.1 billion for next-generation SatcomBw 3 military communications satellites, the European aerospace firm said on Thursday.


The deal means that Airbus will manage geostationary satellites, ground infrastructure, and launches for the next 15 years.

Geostationary satellites are spacecraft that orbit the Earth at the same speed that the Earth rotates, meaning they stay in the same relative position.

These craft are due to be deployed before the end of the decade.

 "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," Michael Schoellhorn, chief executive of Airbus Defence and Space, said.

"Long term partnerships are crucial to guaranteeing essential sovereignty and capability, and protecting our armed forces in the increasingly unstable geo-political environment," he added.

The new contract strengthens the existing relationship between Airbus and the German army, as the two sides have been engaged in a similar satellite contract since 2009.

Airbus' next generation of satellites are based on the Eurostar Neo platform and will weigh around 6 metric tons.

According to the firm, they will have "extensive capabilities to keep pace with the rapid changes in digitalisation" and the "volume of data transfer required".

In April, Germany's Finance Minister Christian Lindner projected that the country could see an extra  €9 billion in defence spending from 2028, provided that Germany can reduce its debt burden.

"That will help us achieve the leap to the NATO target in the federal budget after the end of the special programme for the Bundeswehr [army]," Lindner said.

According to NATO principles, members must aim to spend at at least 2% of their Gross Domestic Product on defence.

Twenty-three Allies are expected to meet or exceed this target in 2024, compared to only three Allies in 2014.

In February this year, German Defense Minister Boris Pistorius nonetheless argued that the 2% goal "can only be the starting point".

Geopolitical tensions, notably Russia's invasion of Ukraine in 2022, have pushed security concerns and therefore defence spending to the forefront of European priorities.

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