Europe Takes New Steps Toward Defense Cooperation

By Amy Svitak
Source: Aviation Week & Space Technology

In the area of satellite communications, five countries are joining to form a users group with the goal of developing a roadmap for preparing the next-generation of European communications satellites.

Germany, Spain, France, Italy and U.K. currently operate their own military communications satellite systems, a number of which are slated to reach the end of their service life in the next few years.

“A roadmap has been proposed on preparing the next generation of satellite communications, and for closer cooperation between the member states, but we're not there at the moment, where we have defined the requirements and the targets,” the Commission aide said.

In the area of air-to-air refueling, the council welcomed progress achieved to date, which last year saw nine EU countries plus Norway sign a letter of intent for considering pooled acquisition of a tanker aircraft. Led by the Netherlands, the new aircraft—possibly a Multirole Tanker Transport based on the Airbus A330—would be available for European users in 2020, the aide said.

Council members also discussed—but did not approve—joint funding of military activities, such as those led by France in the Central African Republic.

France has asked for EU financial assistance in the peacekeeping operation, a security mission that French President Francois Hollande has said is being conducted on behalf of European security overall.

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