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28 April 2015
Defence and Space

Airbus Defence and Space delivers Comcept, the French Armed Forces’ first very high-speed satellite based network

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Summary

France joins a select group of nations with military networks based on very high-speed all-IP satellite connections

Airbus Defence and Space has delivered the sophisticated ‘Comcept’ very-high speed satellite network to DGA (the French defence procurement agency). Comcept will be used by the French Ministry of Defence to complement the Syracuse satellite system with very high-speed and all-IP (Internet Protocol) data transmission capabilities provided by the Ka frequency band. The delivery of the first tranche of the Comcept system also triggers the beginning of the in-service support phase, which is scheduled to last for 15 years.  

The speed of data transmission has become more and more a crucial factor as the amount of data increases accordingly with more and more sophisticated equipment for efficient military operations. “With Comcept, the French Army joins the United States and the United Arab Emirates in a very select group of armed forces with satellite-based military Ka-band networks,” said Eric Souleres, Head of Operations and Engineering at the Communications, Intelligence & Security (CIS) business line. 

The DGA commissioned Airbus Defence and Space and Actia Telecom with the development of the Comcept ground system and network at the end of 2012. The Comcept system contract will run for 17 years. The ground segment is used to operate the Franco-Italian Athena-Fidus satellite. The system will also be compatible with future commercial satellites operating in the Ka-band frequency, in order to supplement Athena-Fidus’ capabilities. Comcept combines innovations in the commercial sector with specific functions required for military communication.

The Comcept network comprises two docking stations, two redundant mission centres and fixed and deployable terminals, allowing the exchange of data, videos and telephone communications using all-IP technology. Developed by Actia Telecom and Airbus Defence and Space, 20 HDR (High Data Rate) stations in mobile shelters with 2.4 m antennas providing bandwidth up to 10 Mbit/s have already been delivered. 250 TMT (Metropolitan Theatre Terminal) stations with 1 m antennas in fixed or mobile containers and 50 SDT (Small-Size Terminal) stations with 0.7 m antennas that can be transported in suitcases, will be delivered this year. The contract also provides for the possibility to acquire additional fixed and deployable ground stations that could be used both in France and in theatres of operations.

As the prime contractor for Comcept, Airbus Defence and Space is responsible for system engineering and validation, the delivery of the network equipment for two docking stations, the two mission centres and the associated in-service support. Its partner Actia Telecom – which specialises in satellite communications and supplies the French Ministry of Defence – is performing tasks related to the engineering, integration and operational maintenance of the users' ground stations.

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