Thales Alenia Space has been awarded a contract by the French Defence Procurement Agency (DGA) to conduct a study on France's Armed Forces future military satellite communications (MILSATCOM) system, dubbed Comsat NG.
Under the deal, the company will conduct a one-year review of MILSATCOM capacity required in orbit, acquisition procedures and collaboration schemes, before submitting the analysis to DGA.
The study is expected to help the French Ministry of Defence (MoD) start the conceptual design phase of the Comsat NG in early 2013, with an aim of making the system operationally available by 2019.
Featuring X-band, Ka-band and extremely high frequency (EHF) payloads, Comsat NG has been designed to succeed the military's two existing Syracuse III satellites and complement an additional two Sicral 2 and Athena Fidus satellite systems, which are scheduled for launch in late 2013 or early 2014.
The new generation programme is also expected to be part of a cooperative effort between the French MoD and European partners, which may include the UK and Italy.
Commissioned in 2005 and 2006, the Thales Alenia-built Syracuse III is a third-generation satellite system designed to deliver independent high-speed communication services and connectivity for all kinds of military telecommunication networks.
Image: The French military's Syracuse III satellite in orbit. Photo: Copyright Ministere de la Defense 2012.