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SYRACUSE 4B military communication satellite launched

In orbit to boost communications capabilities for French armed forces

The SYRACUSE 4B military communications satellite was successfully launched today by an Ariane 5 from the Guiana Space Center, Europe’s Spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana. 

The two satellites in the SYRACUSE IV defense communications system, 4A and 4B, were built for the French Armament General Directorate (DGA - Direction Générale de l’Armement) by the consortium of Thales Alenia Space (a joint-company between Thales 67% and Leonardo 33 %) and Airbus Defence and Space. As the lead contractor, Thales Alenia Space (TAS) was responsible for the 4A satellite, launched in 2021, and the payloads for both 4A and 4B. Airbus Defence and Space is in charge of the 4B satellite, based on the all-electric Eurostar platform, and supplies key components for the two payloads. 

SYRACUSE 4B will join 4A in orbit, forming the IV satellite segment, which replaces the previous SYRACUSE III generation (3A and 3B). 4A and 4B are designed to be compatible with the current system, while also delivering additional capacity and new functions for armed forces, especially more capacity and flexibility, plus faster throughput and expanded coverage. Because of its improved flexibility, the satellite can meet the needs of forces deployed anywhere in the coverage zone, while also efficiently managing its X and Ka-band bandwidth resources. 

Unlike commercial satellites, 4A and 4B have to stand up to a wide variety of potential threats, including jamming, to guarantee service continuity and resilience. Both 4A and 4B feature the latest cyber-defense and data encryption technologies, sectors in which Thales is a leader for both ground and space applications. 

Other contributors to the SYRACUSE IV system include Telespazio, the joint-company between Leonardo (67%) and Thales (33%), in charge of satellite positioning and stationkeeping, while also supporting the French defense ministry by contributing to operation and upgrades over the satellites’ design life of more than 15 years. Thales supplies the user ground segment, based on its Modem 21 high-performance, high-security transmission system. It also provides hardened tactical and naval ground stations, along with airborne stations, to ensure communications availability and confidentiality for all types of threats. 

France’s SYRACUSE “milsatcom” program kicked off in 1980 and handles all military communications between mainland France and units deployed in theaters of operation. By ensuring full strategic independence, this program addresses requirements for long-range and secure communications, protected against electronic warfare (EW), without requiring local ground infrastructure. The first three generations of SYRACUSE satellites, built by Thales Alenia Space as prime contractor, were deployed from 1984 to 2015.

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AVIONEWS - World Aeronautical Press Agency