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18 June 2014
18. June 2014 Defence and Space

Airbus Defence and Space marks first all-IP ultra-high-speed satellite communication link for French Armed Forces


First links between Comcept ground segment and the Athena-Fidus satellite were carried out on 17June 2014, with the agreement of the French procurement agency DGA.

French forces are now one step closer to joining a very select group of armed forces with military networks that use ultra-high-speed all-IP (Internet Protocol) satellite connections.
Airbus Defence and Space has once again demonstrated its expertise in developing next-generation military satellite communication systems.

Airbus Defence and Space has marked an important step towards providing the French Armed Forces with an ultra-high-speed, all-IP satellite communications network in the Ka band. On 17 June, the company successfully established the first end-to-end link between the Comcept system’s ground segments and the recently launched Athena-Fidus satellite.

The French defence procurement agency DGA in late 2012 commissioned Airbus Defence and Space and Actia Sodielec to develop Comcept – one of the first digital military ultra-high- speed satellite communication networks worldwide. Comcept is the ground segment of Athena-Fidus, the Franco-Italian satellite that was launched on 6 February 2014. Comcept will give the French Armed Forces access to a network of fixed and deployable stations, allowing them to exchange data, videos and telephone communications using latest generation all-IP technology in Ka band.

The Comcept system, which is scheduled to go into operation by the end of 2014, will allow French forces to join a very select group of armed forces with military Ka-band networks – today those from the United States and the United Arab Emirates (UAE). Comcept, under a contract set to run for 17 years, will also be compatible with future commercial satellites operating in Ka-band so as to supplement Athena-Fidus’s capabilities.

“Airbus Defence and Space is providing the French Ministry of Defence with a solution fitted to its requirement, namely to complement the Syracuse satellite system with high speed data transmission capabilities, by combining developments in the commercial sector with specific functions required for military communication,” said Eric Soulères, Head of Operations and Engineering within Communications, Intelligence & Security at Airbus Defence and Space.

The first two of 20 main high-data-rate (HDR) ground stations will be delivered in the coming weeks. These HDR stations are installed in a transportable shelter and provide a speed of approximately 10 Mbit/s. There are plans to expand Comcept’s capabilities with fixed and deployable ground stations of varying sizes that could be deployed both in France and in theatres of operation. These could be used to equip land vehicles, ships, airplanes and unmanned aerial systems with mobile stations.

As the prime contractor for Comcept, Airbus Defence and Space is responsible for engineering and system testing. Its partner Actia Sodielec – a supplier to the French Ministry of Defence specialising in satellite communications – is in charge of the engineering, integration and operational maintenance of the ground stations.

Airbus Defence and Space has unique expertise in Ka-band satellite communication networks based on its experience with the UAE’s Yahsat system and Eutelsat’s KA-SAT satellite.

“Driven by these successes and its unrivalled experience as a satcom services operator, Airbus Defence and Space has demonstrated the ability of its French team to support the Ministry of Defence in developing the most cost effective, next-generation military satellite communication systems,” Soulères said.

About Airbus Defence and Space

Airbus Defence and Space is a division of Airbus Group formed by combining the business activities of Cassidian, Astrium and Airbus Military. The new division is Europe’s number one defence and space enterprise, the second largest space business worldwide and among the top ten global defence enterprises. It employs some 40,000 employees generating revenues of approximately €14 billion per year.

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