If Britain and France succeed in merging their separate military satellite communications networks into a single system they will likely opt to have a private-sector operator manage it, the head of France’s arms procurement agency, DGA, said Feb. 22.

In a briefing on DGA’s 2011 performance, Laurent Collet-Billon, the head of DGA, did not express an opinion on whether the two nations would succeed in creating a single system to save money.

France’s Syracuse 3 military telecommunications satellite network is currently a government-procured, government-operated service.

Britain’s Skynet satellites have been outsourced to the private sector, which owns and operates the satellites and guarantees bandwidth to British defense forces under a long-term services contract. Excess capacity has been sold to NATO and other allied governments.

The French government has been debating for several years whether to sell the Syracuse 3 network to the private sector and then lease the capacity. No decision has been made, although price and cost proposals have been solicited from Astrium and Thales Alenia Space.