With the Syracuse 4A satellite, France is deploying its new defense strategy

Conflicts are now played out in space. Not that there is a kind of typical spaceship battle Star wars. But quite simply because telecommunications satellites are already the sinews of war for coordinating military operations on the ground. And with its successful launch on the night of Saturday 23 to Sunday 24 October, France is winning in this global game, like the United States, China, or even Russia.

Always transmit more data, always faster

This deployment inaugurates a new military constellation Syracuse, desired in 2015 by the Ministry of the Armed Forces. The previous version stumbled against a multiplication of sensors and therefore data from the field, which had to be transmitted ever faster. From now on, the 4A telecommunications satellite will make it possible to connect the various actors of a military operation with a speed up to three times faster than at present.

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Only space guarantees sufficiently reliable telecommunications for military activities, recalled Ludovic Esquivié, officer in the Syracuse program on the occasion of the launch. The major assets of this fourth generation are the increase in achievable speeds, better connectivity and flexibility to adapt speeds and coverage areas for the benefit of the armed forces. “

The idea is that the various operators in the field can communicate better, with the command centers and with each other. From new Griffon armored and hyperconnected vehicles to Phoenix tanker planes, even to Suffren-class nuclear submarines.

Satellites designed to defend themselves in space

In addition to improved throughput, Syracuse 4A includes a system to combat jamming and attacks. Although the details are not known, the satellite should thus be able to avoid being “blinded” by a foreign power or even hacked. In 2018, the Minister of the Armed Forces, Florence Parly, had thus mentioned “An attempt to listen to its neighbors”, when a Russian satellite, Luch-Olympus, had come a little too close to a Franco-Italian military satellite.

An innovative propulsion and navigation system will also allow the new Syracuse 4A to avoid collisions, involuntary with space debris, or on the contrary voluntary but disguised as accidents with an object over which we have lost control.

The first in Europe, this satellite with its electric plasma motor also saves weight on the propulsion and therefore increases the payload. “Thanks to this technology, the satellites will be able to transmit in two different frequency bands”, indicates the general direction of the armies.

Also modernize the ground segment

Scheduled to last fifteen years, this first satellite will be joined next year by Syracuse 4B. The contract between the industrialists and the ministry also provides for an option for a third machine, which should be ordered by 2025. The military programming law for 2019-2025 provides for 4.3 billion euros for the renewal of the all military space capabilities, of which more than 3 billion will be dedicated to Syracuse 4.

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The industrial realization was entrusted to Thales Alenia Space and Airbus Defense and Space, with the help of experts from the national center for space studies, and Arianespace at launch, for a 100% French success. An important national master’s degree in the military field. The failure of an orbit by South Korea, a few days earlier, had reminded that if access to space seems to become commonplace, it is in reality still the prerogative of only a handful. of countries, including France.


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