Ministers approve military satellite plans
(CS/ml) The Luxembourg state is to launch a military satellite in a joint venture with SES S.A., Defence Minister Etienne Schneider confirmed on Wednesday.
The project was approved by the Council of Ministers, he said during a press conference, with SES and the state to each invest 50 million euros between 2015 and 2017. In addition, a bank loan will provide 125 million euros in funds to launch and operate the satellite.
Over the course of ten years, the state will buy satellite capacity worth 100 million euros from the newly created company, in which it will hold a 50 percent share, which it will make available to NATO as part of its contribution to the organisation.
Earlier this year, NATO had called on its members to increase their contributions after only the UK and the US achieved a 2 percent of GDP defence spending goal. Luxembourg currently spends around 0.4 percent of GDP on NATO funding.
No armed drones
The Luxembourg defence budget currently amounts to 200 million euros per year, with Schneider explaining: “Instead of buying military material – Dingos, planes, etc. – we decided to use the money in such a manner, that it will have an economic impact in Luxembourg.”
In the long-term it is hoped that the project will create jobs, yield a profit and tax revenue for the state, while also opening up new business opportunities for SES.
Aside from NATO and its member countries, the satellite will also be made available to the UN and the EU, as well as other international organisations, Schneider said, while adding that the state will have a veto right on potential clients.
The minister said that the satellite will be used for communications and is not intended for the navigation of armed drones, a concern voiced by the Pirate Party when the plans were first made public in July.
Still, the state has sought two legal assessments, to confirm that the state cannot be made responsible “in case something like that should happen.”
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