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France launches Syracuse 4A military communications satellite

Syracuse 4A launch
Photo: Arianespace

France has launched the Syracuse 4A military communications satellite on an Ariane 5 rocket that launched from the Guiana Space Center, in Kourou, French Guiana, on October 24.

Developed for the French armed forces, Syracuse 4A will serve France’s sovereignty needs by connecting troops deployed on operation.

The launch on October 24 deployed the first of three satellites that will eventually form the Syracuse 4 defense communications satellite constellation. The first two, Syracuse 4A and Syracuse 4B, are built for the French defense procurement agency DGA (Direction Générale de l’Armement) by the industrial consortium formed by Thales Alenia Space and Airbus Defence and Space.

Thales Alenia Space is in charge of the Syracuse 4A satellite and co responsible with Airbus Defence and Space of the payloads for both satellites.

Initiating the replacement of the previous generation, Syracuse 4A is designed to be compatible with the existing system, while also delivering expanded capacity and new functions for armed forces, especially greater throughput, capacity and flexibility, along with a broader coverage zone.

Unlike commercial satellites, the Syracuse satellites have to resist a wide variety of potential threats, including jamming, to guarantee service continuity and resilience. Built on the all-electric Spacebus NEO platform, Syracuse 4A features cyber-defense and data encryption technologies – two areas in which Thales is a leader for both terrestrial and space applications.

For Syracuse 4, Telespazio, a joint venture between Leonardo and Thales is in charge of the orbital positioning and station keeping for the satellites and will support the Ministry of the Armed Forces by contributing to its exploitation during the next 15 years.

Syracuse is the French military satellite communications (milsatcom) program that kicked off in 1980. It handles all military communications between headquarters in France and units deployed in different theaters of operation. The program is designed to provide an independent solution to meet France’s need for long-range, secure telecommunications, protected against electronic warfare.