The Ministry of the Armed Forces of France announced on 6 July that the European Space Agency’s Ariane 5 spacecraft launched the second satellite of France’s new Syracuse IV constellation from French Guiana.

Syracuse IV is a military satellite communications (SATCOM) constellation that comprises two satellites – 4A and 4B – that will support the communications of the French Armed Forces around the world.

4A and 4B satellites were built by a consortium of two French companies: Thales Alenia Space and Airbus. As the lead contractor, Thales was responsible for the Syracuse 4A, which launched in 2021, and the payloads for both 4A and 4B. Meanwhile, Airbus was in charge of the 4B satellite, based on the all-electric Eurostar platform, and supplies key components for the two payloads.

Syracuse IV capabilities for France

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

The 4A and 4B satellites are compatible with the current system, while also delivering additional capacity and new functions for the armed forces, especially more capacity and flexibility, plus faster throughput and expanded coverage. Due to 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.

Unlike commercial satellites, Syracuse IV resists a wide variety of potential threats, including jamming, to guarantee service continuity and resilience. Both 4A and 4B feature the latest cyber-defence and data encryption technologies.

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“Syracuse IV is a major programme [that] contributes to the modernisation of our space capabilities defence, which is decisive for our sovereignty and our strategic independence,” Sebastien Lecornu, the Minister for the Armed Forces, stated.

“The evolution of operational modes of engagement and the digitisation of the battlespace generate a growing need for connectivity” the Ministry press release emphasised.