Airbus Defence and Space

Security & Defence Press releases

Airbus Defence and Space to build the future optical reconnaissance satellites for the French Armed Forces

  • Contract worth € 795 million

  • Two new military observation satellites for France, with an option for a third

  • An ambitious timetable with first launch slated for 2016

  • The DGA and CNES once again place their confidence in Airbus Defence and Space


Paris, 2 December 2010 – CNES, the French space agency, has notified Airbus Defence and Space that the DGA, the French arms procurement agency, has awarded the company a € 795 million contract for two satellites for the optical space component (CSO) that will replace the current HELIOS 2 military observation satellites. The first satellite is scheduled to enter orbit in December 2016. The contract also includes an option for a third satellite.


As prime contractor for the CSO satellites programme, Airbus Defence and Space will provide the agile platform and avionics, and will also be responsible for the integration work, testing and delivery of the satellites to CNES. Thales Alenia Space will provide Airbus Defence and Space with the very-high resolution optical instrument.


100 times more powerful with 30% less costs


Airbus Defence and Space will be making use of new technology to deliver satellites that are 100 times more powerful than the current generation, all at reduced costs.  Airbus Defence and Space has drawn on the latest technological advances and operational feedback from its entire fleet of reconnaissance satellites to cut costs by 30% over the last decade. Airbus Defence and Space can now boast 35 low-orbit satellites that have totalled 350 years of service in orbit.


The satellite's tremendous agility and stability enable it to quickly provide users with extremely high-quality images, even for the most complex acquisition schedules.


Airbus Defence and Space has made use of the latest generation of gyroscopic actuators, fibre optic gyroscopes, on-board electronics and control software to optimise weight and inertia and significantly increase the pointing speed.


The satellite will also carry a Galileo navigator developed by Airbus Defence and Space and the latest generation of Sodern star trackers.



About Airbus Defence and Space

Airbus Defence and Space, a wholly owned subsidiary of AIRBUS Group, is dedicated to providing civil and defence space systems and services. In 2009, Airbus Defence and Space had a turnover of €4.8 billion and more than 15,000 employees in France, Germany, the United Kingdom, Spain and the Netherlands. Its three main areas of activity are Airbus Defence and Space for launchers and orbital infrastructure, Airbus Defence and Space for spacecraft and ground segment, and Airbus Defence and Space for comprehensive end-to-end value-added solutions covering secure and commercial satcoms and networks, high security satellite communications equipment, bespoke geo-information and navigation services worldwide.


AIRBUS Group is a global leader in aerospace, defence and related services. In 2009, the Group – comprising Airbus, Airbus Defence and Space, Cassidian and Eurocopter – generated revenues of € 42.8 billion and employed a workforce of more than 119,000.



Press contacts:

Daniel Mosely (Airbus Defence and Space UK)                                                      Tel.: +44 (0)1 438 77 8180

Matthieu Duvelleroy (Airbus Defence and Space FR)                                              Tel.: +33 (0) 1 77 75 80 32

Ralph Heinrich (Airbus Defence and Space GER)                                                   Tel.: +49 (0) 89 607 33971

Francisco Lechón (Airbus Defence and Space SP)                                                 Tel.: +34 91 586 37 41 

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