BERLIN — The European Union is investing €90 million ($97 million) to jumpstart the development of a satellite-based missile early warning system, with a consortium of 43 companies from 14 nations starting work on a simulator.
The project, led by Bremen, Germany-based OHB System AG, in 2021 received an initial €7.5 million from the European Commission to study “space situational awareness and early warning capabilities.” The new project, titled Odin’s Eye II, expands upon these studies and moves things forward by launching the design phase. Announced late last year, it carries an expected price tag of €96.6 million, according to a fact sheet posted on the EU website.
The EU-level funding comes out of the European Defence Fund, with some additional, direct contributions from participating governments. Norway, although not an EU member, is also involved in the project.
The satellite system is meant to enhance European countries’ capabilities in the areas of timely warning, technical intelligence, proliferation control and missile defense. It specifically seeks to detect and track ballistic, hypersonic and anti-satellite weapons, according to the grant fact sheet and an OHB’s statement.
Several of the company’s subsidiaries are also part of the consortium. OHB Hellas, a Greek-based outfit, and Digital Connect, based in Mainz, Germany, are responsible for the ground segment, data analysis and on-board processing.
The coalition of companies from across the continent also includes several giants of the European defense industry, including Airbus, the Ariane Group, Leonardo and Thales
According to OHB, Odin’s Eye will serve as a pillar of the French-led, European TWISTER project. Twister hopes to track space threats “through a combination of enhanced capabilities for space-based early warning and endo-atmospheric interceptors,” according to that project’s official description.
“Europe’s sovereignty and defense capability will also be decided in space, and a dedicated early warning capability is essential in regard of the current geopolitical state of the world,” said Sabine von der Recke, the responsible board member at OHB.
The company was unable to provide further information on the program’s timing and mission specifics by press time.
In recent years, the European Union has embarked on a push to enhance its space-based surveillance abilities. Aside from Odin’s Eye and Twister, in 2021 it funded the Ariane Group-led Sauron project, which also had the aim of enhancing space situational awareness, and the Vitrociset-led Integral, which dealt primarily with the exchange of sensitive operational data.
Linus Höller is a Europe correspondent for Defense News. He covers international security and military developments across the continent. Linus holds a degree in journalism, political science and international studies, and is currently pursuing a master’s in nonproliferation and terrorism studies.