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Broadband telecommunications services for armed forces and civil protection

Since 1985, the French military has been using the geostationary satellites of the Syracuse programme for its communications. The military payloads, that were originally carried by France Telecom’s TC2 telecommunications satellites, are currently being carried by the forces’ own specialised Syracuse 3 satellites.

Syracuse 3 is a secure system capable of resisting jamming and electronic aggression. It is the system used by France for military communications between metropolitan France and forces deployed overseas. Commands and information are exchanged rapidly and confidentially over long distances by Intranet, telephone or fax.

It soon became clear that evolving operational concepts would require different functions, such as the ability to transmit greater amounts of data, but without the necessity for foolproof resistance to jamming (for non-strategic communications). The way the civil protection services function is also changing, with an increasing need for high-speed satellite communications (firemen, security, carabinieri, etc.)

The Athena-Fidus* programme will address these needs with additional services, complementing those provided by the existing national fleets of military satellites. This French-Italian project is expected to launch a geostationary satellite in 2013, capable of very high rates of data transmission (around 3 Gbits/s). It will use cutting-edge civilian technologies for broadband Internet access.

CNES and the Italian Space Agency (ASI) are responsible for developing the Space segment of the Athena-Fidus project. Once operational, the system will be used by both the French, Belgian and Italian armed forces as well as the civil protection services of France and Italy.

* Access on theatres for European allied forces nations-French Italian dual use satellite

Initiators CNES - ASI (Italian space agency)
Participants CNES, ASI, French, Belgian and Italian Defence Ministries and French and Italian Civil protection services
Objectives To provide broadband satellite telecommunications services to the French, Belgian and Italian armed forces and to the French and Italian civil protection services
Status In orbit
Launch 6 February 2014

Last updated : February 2014.