French Armed Forces to Rely on Thales Expertise to Expand Their Secure Satellite Communication Capabilities

  • The French Ministry for the Armed Forces renewed its confidence in Thales by selecting the Group as prime contractor for the development and deployment of the ground segment for the Syracuse IV system capacity expansion.
  • Thales will build on its extensive experience in military satellite systems integration in Europe and the Middle East to supply the end-to-end management system required for full interoperability, as well as nearly 200 ground terminals.
  • Thanks to the use of Thales’s unique Modem 21 anti-jam technology, the French Forces will benefit from increased data rates and optimisation to guarantee sovereignty and information superiority, whatever their position on the globe.

PARIS LA DÉFENSE–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Thales has been chosen by the French defence procurement agency (DGA) to lead a second part of the ground segment of the Syracuse IV satellite communications system for the French armed forces. The Group was selected to supply the satellites in 2015 and to lead the first increment of the ground segment in 2019. This second capacity increment will enhance the interoperable communications capabilities of the French Army, Navy and Air Force in terms of data rate, availability, threat resistance and end-to-end connectivity.


Military satellite communications are more critical than ever and more vulnerable to attack; they are at the heart of the battle for strategic independence across all areas of military invention. Maintaining connectivity is key to the armed forces’ ability to share information of all types between command centres and units deployed on any type of mission, including coalition operations.

This crucial programme milestone will enhance the performance of the ground segment across all theatres of operation for the three branches of the French military. The Thales solution will decisive in meeting the capacity requirements of land, naval and air force programmes such as Scorpion, FREMM, FDI, Barracuda, aircraft carrier, or Rafale. It aims to increase tenfold the secure communication capabilities of fighting vehicles on the move, surface vessels, submarines, and now also aircrafts. The Thales technology guarantees roaming communications in both X- and Ka-band and fully exploits the multi-spot potential of High Throughput Satellite (HTS) technology.

All the ground terminals in the system will be able to make optimum use of the Syracuse IV constellation. Their full interconnection via new docking terminals will allow considerable increase in data rate by ensuring joint cooperation in theatres of operations and with command centres. They will also be compatible with third-party satellite resources, depending on the area of deployment, without compromising communications security.

To achieve this objective, Thales will leverage its high-level systems integration expertise, and in particular its highly secure Modem 21 transmission system, to guarantee the availability and confidentiality of all communications and provide protection from the full spectrum of threats with no impact on operational performance, which is key to retaining information superiority in high-intensity combat. Thales’s NATO-standard Modem 21 solution has been proven in combat for over ten years.

The role of Thales Alenia Space in this contract will include mission management for the Syracuse constellation and management of the anchoring capabilities of the operator, the French Defence Ministry’s joint infrastructure networks and information systems agency (DIRISI). Thales Alenia Space is also lead contractor for the contract notified by the DGA at the end of 2015 for the supply of the space segment consisting of the Syracuse 4A and 4B satellites and their control and mission ground segment.

Building on its expertise as a technology orchestrator and integrator for satellite communication systems in France and internationally, Thales has deployed over 1,000 secure, protected satcom stations worldwide, working with local industrial partners.

“As prime contractor for the Syracuse III and Syracuse IV ground segments since 2004, Thales is proud to strengthen its partnership with the French Ministry for the Armed Forces to help maintain the informational superiority of the country’s armed forces in highly contested environments. The sovereign satcom solutions to be supplied under this contract are resilient to all types of threats, combat-proven, and fully interoperable with the systems deployed by NATO coalition forces.” Marc Darmon, Executive Vice President, Secure Communications and Information Systems, Thales.

Note to editors

Syracuse is a series of protected telecommunication satellites designed to ensure that the French armed forces can communicate at all times between mainland France and units deployed around the world. The Syracuse programme provides a fully independent solution to France’s wide-ranging requirements for long-range, secure communication capabilities that are protected against electronic warfare threats. Three generations of Syracuse satellites were deployed between 1984 and 2015. The Syracuse IV programme will replace the Syracuse 3A and Syracuse 3B satellites currently in orbit, while delivering an expanded and upgraded network of ground stations. A constellation of two satellites has been ordered under the first phase of the Syracuse IV programme. They will be built by Thales Alenia Space and Airbus Defence and Space. The first satellite will enter service in 2022.

About Thales

Thales (Euronext Paris: HO) is a global high technology leader investing in digital and “deep tech” innovations –connectivity, big data, artificial intelligence, cybersecurity and quantum technology – to build a future we can all trust, which is vital to the development of our societies. The company provides solutions, services and products that help its customers – businesses, organisations and states – in the defence, aeronautics, space, transportation and digital identity and security markets to fulfil their critical missions, by placing humans at the heart of the decision-making process.

With 83,000 employees in 68 countries, Thales generated sales of €19 billion in 2019 (on a basis including Gemalto over 12 months).

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Thales, Media Relations
Land & Naval Defence
Faïza Zaroual

+33 (0)7 64 25 99 31

faiza.zaroual@thalesgroup.com