France has postponed the launch of its latest military spy satellite, Helios 2B, for several days after an anomaly occurred in a launcher subsystem during final countdown operations.

Helios 2B was scheduled to be launched on a European Ariane 5 rocket from the European Space Agency launch site in French Guiana.

Both the Ariane 5 and its Helios 2B satellite payload have been placed in standby mode and the engineers are working to replace the part, which resulted in the launch delay.

The Helios 2B satellite will help French military forces to draw maps of uncharted zones in Afghanistan, Iraq, Chad and the neighbouring Sudanese region of Darfur.

The $2.6bn Helios 2B programme has been developed by France in cooperation with four other countries of the EU – Belgium, Spain, Italy and Greece.