• Sat. Nov 27th, 2021

The Syracuse 4A military telecoms satellite launched with the utmost discretion – archyworldys


Oct 24, 2021

Why mysteriously the Ministry of the Armed Forces was so discreet before the launch of the Syracuse 4A military telecoms satellite in Kourou this Sunday when it had been extremely communicative for the previous generation Syracuse III? Why did he impose a virtual blackout on this new expensive but legitimate system (3.6 billion euros in total), which gradually provides for the complete renewal of satellites and ground stations ofdeployed as part of Syracuse III? Everything was, however, gathered to “celebrate” a new powerful military tool (a constellation of three satellites) participating in the sovereignty of France and fully in line with the space strategy desired by Emmanuel Macron in the field of defense. Designed and manufactured under the supervision of Thales Alenia Space, this program uses sovereign technologies mainly developed and produced in France (digital processor, hardening against attacks, space surveillance, etc.). Incomprehensible.

Facing the explosion of data needs

According to a press release and a press kit from the Ministry of the Armed Forces published at the end of the Ariane 5 flight success, Syracuse 4A, initially scheduled for launch at the end of 2020, “will considerably increase the capacities of the armed forces and allow France to have greater autonomy of decision and action”. Armed forces will benefit from three times the throughput, resistance to the most advanced threats and great flexibility of employment. It will provide a communications capability at very high speed and at very long distance. How? ‘Or’ What ? It is the use of two frequency bands (X bands and Ka band), which provides bandwidth enlarged and thus a much higher speed (approximately 1.5 Gigabit / second per satellite).

Why do armies have a need for increased capacity? Because information is essential on theaters of operation for the military. And France’s new military telecoms system Syracuse IV will make it possible to cope with the explosion of needs in terms of data in the armed forces, which was noted by Florence Parly. The Minister of the Armed Forces had announced under the military programming law (LPM) the construction of a third satellite, which has not yet been ordered. The notification of this contract was scheduled for 2023 for a launch in 2028 but the ministry is now more vague, evoking an order by 2025. The launch of Syracuse 4B is scheduled for 2022. The first two satellites had been ordered in 2015. Equipped with electric motors, Syracuse 4A, of which the duration of life is estimated at 15 years, will be fully qualified in nine months, including seven months to return to orbit. Ainis, dn within the framework of the development of this Syracuse program, the first French sector of electric propulsion (PPS 5000) was created, with Safran as the leader, as well as Saft (batteries).

The armies, whose equipment is increasingly interconnected, including that of the army with the Scorpio program (renewal of armored vehicles), have an increased need for communications capabilities: Griffon and Serval vehicles, FREMM and FDI frigates, Barracuda class submarines, MRTT Phénix tankers, offshore patrol vessels. In the Army, thehe deployment is massive: 4 to 5 times more vehicles will be equipped with modernized stations. Thus, la new Syracuse generation with its ground segment (400 more powerful, mobile and cocompatible with Syracuse III satellites) will therefore be able to absorb this increase in capacity. In particular, it will allow the ministry to be at the Rafale F4 capacity meeting, which should be qualified in 2023. This new standard brings the Rafale program, which will have an increased need for satellite communications, even more into the data age.

A protected and reconfigurable satellite

Who says data says vulnerabilities. The Syracuse IV system offers “better resistance to attacks”, estimates the Ministry of the Armed Forces. These new generation satellites are designed to withstand military attacks from the ground and in space. Protected against the most advanced threats (jamming, interception, cyber attacks, electromagnetic pulses), in principle they will provide highly secure and resilient communication links to the armed forces. “More secure than current means, ground stations will also be able to withstand all attacks, interference, cyber attacks”, assures the ministry. To have…

Drawing the consequences unfriendly operations vis-à-vis its satellites in space, the ministry also wanted each of its three satellites Syracuse be equipped with a camera in order to monitor its immediate environment. These cameras will be able to detect the approach of debris or famous “browsing” satellites such as Luch-Olymp, which had spied on the Franco-Italian military telecoms satellite Athena-Fidus. These acts of espionage in space are not new. The French Air Force acknowledged having identified in 2012, then 2013 and, finally, in 2015, spacecraft which approached French military satellites. “When a hostile act has been detected, characterized and attributed, France must be able to respond in an appropriate and proportionate manner, in accordance with the principles of international law “, estimates the Ministry of the Armed Forces.

Finally, the special feature of the Syracuse IV program satellites is their state-of-the-art transparent digital processor (PNT). generation, which constitutes the intelligence of the satellite and provides great flexibility of use. Syracuse 4A can be constantly reconfigured and has the “the ability to very precisely adjust the resource to the operational need, in terms of bandwidth or radio coverage on the ground. It optimizes the resource and thus fully exploiting the potential of satellites and satisfying more users simultaneously “, explains the ministry.

The translation of the LPM

The launch of Syracuse 4A is a concrete illustration of the strengthening of military space resources supported by the 2019-2025 Military Programming Law. This ambition was reaffirmed by Florence Parly’s new defense space strategy in 2019, with an additional 700 million euros by 2025, bringing to 4.3 billion the investments of the Ministry of the Armed Forces in the space sector. It has already resulted in the launch of the ARES program dedicated to space surveillance and defense systems for our satellites, and the establishment of the new Space Command.

During the period 2019-2025, all space observation, communication and electromagnetic intelligence capabilities will be largely renewed and strengthened to respond to new threats and allow France to preserve the freedom of access and use of space, essential to its strategic independence. Free access and use of exo-atmospheric space are conditions of our autonomy strategic, says the Ministry of the Armed Forces. Whether it is to communicate, navigate, observe, identify and inform, the spatial capacities are essential for the preparation and conduct of military operations “.