Alcatel Space Signs Key Defense Deals

By | February 2, 2004 | Feature

Alcatel Space has had a good start to the year in terms of government and institutional communications. It has announced two major deals in January. It announced that it has been chosen by EADS Astrium, prime contractor for the SPIRALE (Systeme Préparatoire Infra-Rouge pour Alerte) early warning program, to build two demonstration satellites. It has also announced that the French defense procurement agency (DGA) has chosen the company to build the second next-generation Syracuse 3B military communications satellite.

Alcatel Space generates around 20 percent of all revenues from military communications. The company expects that sector to generate a significant part of its revenues in 2004. With the commercial market still going through tough times, these military contracts are vital.

The two deals cap a fine start to the year for Alcatel Space, the satellite manufacturing arm of Paris-based Alcatel [NYSE: ALA]. The SPIRALE program, worth 124 million euros ($154.7 million), involves the supply and operation of a complete ballistic missile early warning system. It will gather and analyze infrared images of terrestrial backgrounds to detect ballistic missiles during the powered phase, just after launch. Alcatel Space is a prime contractor for the space segment, comprising two 120 kilogram-class micro satellites in elliptical orbit.

Blaise Jaeger, vice president of sales at Alcatel Space who lead negotiations with the DGA, told SATELLITE NEWS: “It is an important contract for us because we will be the prime contractor for these early warning satellites.”

The two micro satellites will be launched in 2008 by an Ariane 5 rocket. The program is significant, according to Alcatel, because “it is designed to pave the way for future spaceborne early warning system using optical sensors.” Jaeger believes the nature of the work that Alcatel Space is doing for SPIRALE is key. “The early warning mission is one of the most important demonstration missions for the French Ministry of Defense [MOD]. The French MOD is one of our key customers. The SPIRALE program is worth 124 million euros. We have a 50 percent share in this. This contract is important because it lays foundations for the future, along the lines of programs such as Helios 2. The Helios 2 program is the second-generation observation system following on from the defense and security services provided by the Helios I program.”

The other main contract for Alcatel Space involves the Syracuse military communications system. Alcatel Space is the prime contractor for the Syracuse III system and is in charge of satellite construction, all the way through in orbit delivery, along with the supply of satellite and mission control centers, and extension of the ground station network in France. The Syracuse 3B satellite will use Alcatel Space’s Spacebus commercial satellite platform, which has been hardened to resist nuclear attack. Alcatel originally signed a contract in 2000 for the in-orbit delivery of the first satellite, Syracuse 3A, plus modernization of the ground segment. –Mark Holmes

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