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France expects SIGINT harvest with CERES

17th November 2021 - 17:15 GMT | by The Shephard News Team

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The three CERES satellites in a clean room environment. (Photo: Airbus)

A Vega launcher blasted off on 16 November with three SIGINT satellites for the French military.

The French military has put into orbit its first satellite-based SIGINT system, with the launch of three Capacité de Renseignement Electromagnétique Spatiale (CERES) satellites on a Vega launcher from the Guiana Space Centre on 16 November.

‘We are ready to go with the next generation of space surveillance capability for France,’ said Jean Marc Nasr, Head of Space Systems at Airbus, adding that the three CERES satellites leveraged technology ‘acquired in particular from the ESSAIM [COMINT] and ELISA [ELINT] demonstrators’.

He added: ‘The three CERES satellites will provide France with its first satellite system for signal intelligence, thus confirming our ability to act as prime contractor for French space-based intelligence systems.’

CERES is designed to detect and geo-locate electromagnetic signals from radio communication systems and radars from areas where surface sensors cannot reach. The three identical satellites, each carrying a SIGINT payload, are supported by user and ground control segments.

‘From its low Earth orbit, CERES is free from airspace overflight constraints and can operate in all types of weather. The system will provide in-depth information to support military operations for the French Armed Forces, thus improving situational awareness,’ Airbus stated.

Airbus is responsible for the global system integration and the space segment, while Thales is responsible for end-to-end mission performance of the CERES satellites.

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