BERLIN — The German Ministry of Defense is planning to share sophisticated satellite data with 35 partner nations for military purposes.

The project, called Tandem X, comes with a price tag of roughly EUR ​€360 million (US $391.3 million) and gives a 3-D three-dimensional ​image of  ​the Earth that is of high homogeneous in ​quality and, according to analysts, - according to pundits  - ​unprecedented in accuracy.

The elevation model yields important information to military planners preparing for in preparation of ​tasks such as like  ​special forces operations, target designation for bombings or surveillance missions.

The data was obtained during a several-year-long mission of two German civilian satellites, equipped with synthetic aperture radar. (SAR). ​A report in the of ​German news magazine Der Spiegel published this week says pressure from Washington is adding urgency to the DoD effort to links the hurry of the DoD to ​push the procurement of Tandem X through parliament before the end of this year. to growing pressure from the US.

According to the report, Washington wants the German elevation data in exchange for its own satellite pictures supplied by the US National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency. Germany has access to at least 1,000 four-digit number ​of these high-resolution pictures per day, writes ​Der Spiegel writes. These were especially crucial in overseas operations like those in Afghanistan these were crucial​. Without the approval of Tandem X, Germany might loo​se this intelligence source.

This week, the procurement proposal was discussed in the budget committee of the Bundestag, but final approval was postponed. Sources familiar with the subject expect that it will pass the committee in December.

According to sources, most NATO countries — plus Australia, Israel, Thailand and some countries in the Middle East — will participate in Tandem X. The satellite survey project was developed under a public-private partnership between the German Aerospace Center, DLR,​ and Astrium GmbH,​ (now Airbus Defence and Space).

The German Ministry of Economics sponsored the project, which started in 2010, strongly ​while a lower sum was contributed by ​Airbus also contributed a lesser amount.

Because Due to the fact that  ​the military use of the data by foreign countries was not planned from the outset, no special contractual provisions for such a case were made. Since Airbus holds the commercial marketing rights for Tandem X data, it now can charge a hefty EUR ​€359 million for the data licences, processing software and running costs. Critics argue that thereby ​The German taxpayer is thereby charged twice for Tandem X, critics argue. 

Email: lhoffman@defensenews.com