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SYRACUSE 4B Military Satellite Successfully Launched

Artist view of SYRACUSE 4B satellite [© Airbus]

SYRACUSE 4B secure military communications satellite successfully launched to connecting France’s armed forces deployed on operations.

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Press Release, Toulouse, 06 July 2023: The SYRACUSE 4B communications satellite, built by Airbus and Thales Alenia Space, has been successfully launched from the Guiana Space Center, Europe’s Spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana. It was the last launch of Ariane 5, the European heavy launcher.

SYRACUSE 4B, along with SYRACUSE 4A already in orbit, constitutes the space segment of SYRACUSE IV, the fourth generation secure military satellite communications system for the French Armament General Directorate (DGA – Direction Générale de l’Armement), the French Air and Space force and the French Space Command, built by the industrial consortium formed by Airbus Defence and Space and Thales Alenia Space.

SYRACUSE 4A and 4B will deliver increased capacity and enhanced functionality for the French Armed Forces, including higher throughput and flexibility, along with a broader coverage area. The increased flexibility will ensure the satellites can meet the needs of forces deployed anywhere in the coverage area, while also efficiently managing its X-band and Ka-band resources.

“Observation, signal intelligence, space situational awareness, and of course secure communications across key theatres of operation, are paramount for a nation’s autonomy and freedom of action. Airbus is proud to be a trusted partner of the French Armed Forces: thanks to SYRACUSE 4B, and other programmes, we support our national ambitions and capabilities in all these fields, today and in the decades to come!” said Jean-Marc Nasr, Head of Space Systems at Airbus.

SYRACUSE 4B, built on Airbus’ Eurostar E3000 platform, in its full-electric variant and equipped with in-orbit proximity surveillance, is embarking the same payload as SYRACUSE 4A, built by Thales Alenia Space with key components provided by Airbus. SYRACUSE 4B features critical technologies such as anti-jamming, to guarantee service continuity and resilience, cyber-defence and data encryption technologies.

In the frame of the global SYRACUSE co-contract, Airbus is responsible for the SYRACUSE 4B satellite. Thales Alenia Space was responsible for SYRACUSE 4A satellite as well as both payloads with key component provided by Airbus. The satellite, a true example of pan-European industrial cooperation, will guarantee French sovereignty, while also being able to support operations led by NATO and other allied nations.

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Launch of the Ariane 5 rocket [© Ariane Space]

DGA Press Release, Versailles, 06 July 2023: [auto-translated] Sébastien Lecornu, Minister of the Armed Forces, welcomes the successful launch of the SYRACUSE 4B military telecommunications satellite. This second satellite of the SYRACUSE IV constellation was launched on July 6 at 00:00 (Paris time), from the Guiana space centre by the Ariane 5 rocket which was carrying out its last mission.

  • The minister said: “I would like to extend my warmest congratulations to the state and industrial teams who have worked to make this launch a success. SYRACUSE IV is a major programme that contributes to the modernisation of our space defence capabilities, which are decisive for our sovereignty and our strategic independence.”
  • Offering a speed three times higher, increased resistance to threats and great flexibility of use, the SYRACUSE IV military telecommunications system will considerably increase the capabilities of the armies and allow France to have greater decision-making autonomy. and action.
  • This launch is a concrete illustration of the reinforcement of military space resources provided by the current military programming law and the French space defence strategy. An ambition reaffirmed in the LPM 2024-2030 project which plans to devote six billion Euros to the development of new capacities in the space field.

The launch of the SYRACUSE 4B satellite contributes to the renewal of military satellite telecommunications resources. With the current and future LPMs, the spatial observation, communication, electromagnetic intelligence and active defence capabilities of our satellites will be renewed and strengthened to respond to new threats and enable France to preserve freedom of access and use of space, essential to our strategic independence.

The evolution of operational modes of engagement and the digitisation of the battlespace generate a growing need for connectivity. In this context, the SYRACUSE IV programme was launched to replace the SYRACUSE III telecommunications system (two satellites currently in service, supplemented by the Franco-Italian satellite SICRAL 2), in order to extend the capabilities of the three armies, to deal to new threats and to speed up the sharing of information.

The SYRACUSE IV constellation, made up of two satellites, will gradually replace the resources deployed within the framework of the SYRACUSE III programme. More flexible to use and offering better resistance to various attacks, such as jamming or cyberattacks, this new generation system will enable armies to communicate over very long distances with an overall throughput three times higher and in complete security. Thanks to its performance, users will be able to exchange larger volumes of data, more quickly, at all levels of the chain of command.

With SYRACUSE IV, it is also the renewal of user stations that is engaged. More than 400 ground stations will be deployed in total in the three armies. More powerful, more secure and mobile, they will offer the possibility of connecting a greater number of users simultaneously and will enable forces to communicate in the most isolated areas.

They arrive in the armies from 2023 to equip the main surface ships, submarines, numerous vehicles of the Scorpion programme and deployed units of the Air and Space Forces. This manoeuvre is massive: four to five times more Army vehicles will be equipped with modernised stations. And for the first time, aircraft will have a sovereign military satellite communication capability, starting with the MRTT Phénix tanker aircraft from 2027.

The SYRACUSE 4B satellite will be qualified in nine months once it reaches geostationary orbit and undergoes a comprehensive series of tests. It will then be declared operational and will host the first connections for the benefit of users.

As a reminder, the constellation’s first SYRACUSE 4A satellite, launched at the end of October 2021, arrived at its final position in orbit in May 2022, and its qualification for proper operation in orbit was pronounced on September 16, 2022.

The Directorate General for Armaments (DGA) is responsible for running the SYRACUSE IV programme with the collaboration of the Air and Space Force and the Space Command (CDE), in particular in charge of taking account of the operational needs of armies in the space domain. The DGA provides project management for the entire system and also relies on the expertise of the National Center for Space Studies (CNES). The industrial prime contractor for the SYRACUSE IV satellites is provided by the Thales Alenia Space and Airbus Defense & Space consortium . Arianespace provides launch services. The total cost of carrying out the SYRACUSE IV programme amounts to 3.6 billion Euros.

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