The Netherlands Eyes Role in U.S. Wideband Global Satcom

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The Dutch Ministry of Defense, which is a partner in the U.S.-led Advanced EHF secure military telecommunications program, is weighing a longer-term lease of commercial capacity to fulfill its requirements beyond AEHF including a partnership in the U.S. Wideband Global Satcom program and a long-term lease of commercial capacity, the ministry’s satellite communications manager said.

Ulrich Berrevoets, milsatcom project manager for the ministry’s Defense Material Organization, said Dutch authorities have concluded that a mix of military bandwidth from AEHF and X- and Ka-band military systems should account for about 60 percent of the national demand.

The remaining 40 percent, he said, will be procured through commercial contracts, mainly for C- and Ku-band satellite capacity.

Dutch authorities today lease capacity in C- and Ku-band from SES World Skies, a division of SES of Luxembourg. X-band capacity is purchased from Paradigm Secure Communications of Britain, which owns Britain’s Skynet military telecommunications satellites, while tactical UHF-band capacity is leased from Telespazio of Rome, which owns a minority stake in Italy’s Sicral 1B satellite.

Berrevoets said his ministry is investigating how to secure commercial capacity over a multiyear period without infringing on European Union contract law, which generally limits service contracts to four-year terms to avoid the creation of monopolies. This rule can be waived for national security reasons, according to two European industry officials familiar with its application.

Berrevoets said the Netherlands is studying what would be needed to join the U.S. WGS program, although that system’s Ka-band frequencies have yet to be proved in regions subject to heavy rain.