Press releases

SYRACUSE 4B military communication satellite successfully launched

Press releases

SYRACUSE 4B military communication satellite successfully launched

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    SYRACUSE 4B will join SYRACUSE 4A in orbit to boost communications capabilities for French armed forces

    Kourou, July 6, 2023 – 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, SYRACUSE 4A and SYRACUSE 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 was responsible for the SYRACUSE 4A satellite, launched in 2021, and the payloads for both SYRACUSE 4A and SYRACUSE 4B. Airbus Defence and Space is in charge of the SYRACUSE 4B satellite, based on the all-electric Eurostar platform, and supplies key components for the two payloads.

    SYRACUSE 4B will join SYRACUSE 4A in orbit, forming the SYRACUSE IV satellite segment, which replaces the previous SYRACUSE III generation (SYRACUSE 3A and 3B). SYRACUSE 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.


    Ariane 5 © ESA-CNES-ARIANESPACE/P Baudon.

    Unlike commercial satellites, SYRACUSE 4A and 4B have to stand up to a wide variety of potential threats, including jamming, to guarantee service continuity and resilience. Both SYRACUSE 4B and SYRACUSE 4A 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.

    “Thales Alenia Space’s teams can be very proud of the launch of the SYRACUSE 4B satellite, which is an excellent example of collaboration within French industry,” said Hervé Derrey, President and Chief Executive Officer of Thales Alenia Space. “For SYRACUSE 4B, we reproduced the same payload that has been operating flawlessly on SYRACUSE 4A, launched in 2021 and qualified in orbit since September 2022, providing armed forces with secure end-to-end communications.”

    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.

    Drawing on over 40 years of experience and a unique combination of skills, expertise and cultures, Thales Alenia Space delivers cost-effective solutions for telecommunications, navigation, Earth observation, environmental management, exploration, science and orbital infrastructures. Governments and private industry alike count on Thales Alenia Space to design satellite-based systems that provide anytime, anywhere connections and positioning, monitor our planet, enhance management of its resources, and explore our Solar System and beyond. Thales Alenia Space sees space as a new horizon, helping to build a better, more sustainable life on Earth. A joint venture between Thales (67%) and Leonardo (33%), Thales Alenia Space also teams up with Telespazio to form the parent companies’ Space Alliance, which offers a complete range of services. Thales Alenia Space posted consolidated revenues of approximately 2.2 billion euros in 2022 and has around 8,500 employees in 17 sites in 10 countries across Europe and a plant in the USA.

    Sandrine Bielecki
    Tel: +33 (0)4 92 92 70 94
    Catherine des Arcis
    Tel: +33 (0)6 78 64 63 97

    Cinzia Marcanio
    Tel.: +39 (0)6 415 126 85