November 30, 2021

France places latest generation military satellite in orbit

Syracuse 4A must allow the French armies to communicate at high speed and in complete safety from ground, air, marine and submarine relays.

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A gem of technology, and further proof that geopolitical tensions are now being exported to space. France placed in orbit, Saturday, October 23, a military satellite which should allow the French armies to communicate at high speed and in complete safety from ground, air, marine and submarine relays.

The Ariane 5 rocket took off from Kourou, Guyana, carrying the 4A satellite of the Syracuse program. “Syracuse 4A is designed to withstand military assault from the ground and in space as well as interference”Colonel Stéphane Spet, spokesperson for the Air and Space Army, told AFP. It is equipped with means of surveillance of its close surroundings and with a capacity of movement to escape an attack.

A risk far from theoretical: in July 2020, the American space command accused Moscow of having “conducts non-destructive test of anti-satellite weapon from space”. And in 2017, the Russian “spy satellite” Louch-Olympe had already tried to approach the Franco-Italian military satellite Athena-Fidus. S4 is further protected against electromagnetic pulses which would result from a nuclear explosion.

The Syracuse program represents a total investment of some 4 billion euros. With its two billion euros of annual investments in military and civilian space, France remains far from the top three: 50 billion for the United States, 10 for China and 4 for Russia, according to figures from 2020 from the French government.