Syracuse (French: Système de radiocommunication utilisant un satellite, satellite based radiocommunication system) is a series of French military communications satellites.

Syracuse is intended to ensure the French military can communicate between mainland France and military units deployed around the world. The satellite participates in command, reassignment and logistic aspects of operations. The system is nominally under the command of the French Navy, equipping a total of 54 ships (2009) and it is complemented by the Telcomarsat commercial system of communications.

Syracuse 1 to 3

Syracuse 1 and 2 were payloads on joint civilian-military satellite designs developed and operated by the French PTT, and were more commonly known by their civilian names Télécom 1 (3 satellites in 1984, 1985 and 1988)[1] and Télécom 2 (4 satellites in 1991, 1992, 1995 and 1996).[2] Matra Marconi Space was a development contractor, who also worked on the British Skynet 4 military communications satellite.[3][4]

In 2006, the programme was awaiting for the third phase, Syracuse-3, to replace Syracuse-2. Syracuse-3 is composed of two satellites developed by the Direction générale de l'armement (DGA), and a third satellite (Sicral-2), developed along with Italy. It is an attempt of the French armed forces to achieve autonomy in terms of satellite communications.

Satellites comprising the constellation:

Syracuse 4

In 2018, the French Ministry of Defence announced the development of three Syracuse-4 satellites.[5] Two satellites, Syracuse 4A and 4B, were initially ordered, with a third one, Syracuse 4C, that has been added later.[6] Surplus capacity will be sold to armed and security forces in Europe and elsewhere.[7] Airbus Defence and Space will supply and operate the satellite ground stations.[8]

It was announced in July 2019 that the next generation of Syracuse satellites, Syracuse-4, would have cameras to identify possible attackers. The satellites of the following generations (Syracuse-5) will be equipped with defensive weapons.[9] Florence Parly, Minister of the Armed Forces, officially signed on 3 September 2019 the decree creating the Space Command (Commandement de l'espace - CDE) within the Air Force, which should eventually become the "Air and Space Army".[10]

The first satellite of this family, Syracuse 4A, was launched on 24 October 2021 with an Ariane 5 ECA rocket from the Guiana Space Centre. It was built by Thales Alenia Space, and has a launch mass of 3,853 kilograms (8,494 lb) and uses a plasma propulsion engine.[11][12] The second one, Syracuse 4B, is scheduled to be launched in mid-2022, while the third one is scheduled to be launched by 2025.[13][6]

See also


  1. ^ "Télécom 1A, 1B, 1C". Gunter's Space Page. Retrieved 21 January 2021.
  2. ^ "Télécom 2A, 2B, 2C, 2D". Gunter's Space Page. Retrieved 21 January 2021.
  3. ^ Luginbuhl, P.; Le, A. Roux; Mollat, P. Du Jourdin (17 March 1986). "SYRACUSE - The French military satellite communication system". 11th Communications Satellite Systems Conference. American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics. Retrieved 21 January 2021.
  4. ^ Mitchell, Keith (24 October 2019). "Skynet: the real communication satellite system". National Archives. Retrieved 26 January 2021.
  5. ^ Henry, Caleb (6 November 2018). "France to add third Syracuse 4 satellite to future milsatcom fleet". SpaceNews. Retrieved 20 January 2021.
  6. ^ a b "Avec la constellation Syracuse, les armées françaises passent au haut-débit par satellite". L'Usine Nuovelle (in French). 26 October 2021. Retrieved 21 February 2022.
  7. ^ "Airbus and Telespazio join forces on military satellite services on Syracuse IV satellites". Intelligent Aerospace. 10 September 2019. Retrieved 26 January 2021.
  8. ^ "Airbus wins the first Syracuse IV ground segment programme contract". Airbus Defence and Space. 4 March 2021. Retrieved 13 March 2021.
  9. ^ "Espace: la France va armer ses prochains satellites militaires". Le Point. 25 July 2019. Retrieved 27 July 2019.
  10. ^ "La France crée officiellement son commandement de l'espace". Le Point. 3 September 2019. Retrieved 16 August 2020.
  11. ^ Clark, Stephen (24 October 2021). "Arianespace breaks payload mass record on final Ariane 5 launch before Webb". Spaceflight Now. Retrieved 24 October 2021.
  12. ^ "Operated by Arianespace for the benefit of SES and the French Ministry of the Armed Forces; Ariane 5 VA255 flight is the highest performing ever launched to geostationary transfer orbit". Arianespace (Press release). 24 October 2021. Retrieved 24 October 2021.
  13. ^ "Ariane 5 réussit son dernier envol avant de lancer le télescope James Webb". Ciel & espace (in French). 25 October 2021. Retrieved 21 February 2022.