The French defence procurement agency DGA has selected Thales and Airbus Defence and Space for constructing future military space-based signals intelligence (SIGINT) system.
Thales also has responsibility for the mission payload on board the satellites and for the user ground segment in charge of programming the satellites and the data processing, according to the company press release.
The SIGINT system is expected to enter into service by 2020. CERES (Capacité de Renseignement Electromagnétique d’origine Spatiale) will provide the French armed forces with an operational space-based SIGINT capability.
Three closely positioned satellites will detect and locate radio communications and radars. The system also includes a ground control segment, to be provided by the French space agency CNES, and the user ground segment.
Airbus Defence and Space will have responsibility for the space segment, comprising the three satellites that will integrate the SIGINT payloads. Thales Alenia Space will supply the platform under subcontract to Airbus Defence and Space.
Intelligence is one of four priorities identified by the French defence white paper, and funding was earmarked for SIGINT, including the CERES programme, under the 2014-2019 defence spending plan.