Airbus Defence and Space

Security & Defence Press releases

Airbus Defence and Space wins Helios through life support contract extension

• Airbus Defence and Space signs through life support (Maintenance en Condition Opérationnelle MCO) agreement with the French DGA for the user ground segment of the Helios 2 military space observation system

• The contract will run for six years through to 2018 and will also encompass Helios 2’s successor

• Airbus Defence and Space is a key player in the Helios programme, designing the satellites, satellite bus and payload and also maintaining the system in operational condition since launch

6 March 2012 – Airbus Defence and Space, Europe’s leading space technology company, has signed a through life support contract with the French Defence Procurement Agency (DGA Délégation générale de l’armement) to continue to be responsible for the ground segment maintenance (MCO) of the Helios 2 military optical reconnaissance system.

The contract, announced today by Mr Gérard Longuet, French Minister of Defence and Veterans’ Affairs, at Airbus Defence and Space’s Toulouse site, will run from this year through to 2018, continuing a support service that began in 2005 after the start of operations of the Helios 2A satellite. The contract will also cover the successors to the Helios programme: the satellites that make up the optical space component (CSO) of the MUSIS multinational space-based imaging system and the associated ground component (SSU-CSO).

Ground segment maintenance is essential for a space observation system - alongside the satellites in orbit, the ground segment is at the heart of the system as it is essential for programming, receiving, processing and distributing the images. The MCO agreement covers the maintenance, including all necessary updates, of the hardware and software resources spread across in six countries (Germany, Belgium, Spain, France, Italy and Greece) as well as support for operations.

Helios is a high-resolution military optical reconnaissance system that currently comprises two operational satellites (Helios 2A and Helios 2B), developed under Airbus Defence and Space prime contractorship. Helios provides the programme’s partner countries with an autonomous situational awareness capability. The space-based system can acquire images of any point on the globe at any time, and even make repeated passes over the same target area without risk of detection.

Helios 2 is a military optical reconnaissance programme developed by France in cooperation with four other European Union member states (Belgium, Spain, Italy and Greece). The images it captures provide valuable information for high-level state authorities and forces deployed in operational theatre. The most recent Helios satellite, Helios 2B, was launched in December 2009 by Ariane 5, also developed under Airbus Defence and Space prime contractorship.

For more than 30 years now, Airbus Defence and Space has been the prime contractor, for the French armed forces and for its customers, the DGA and CNES (the French space agency), of both ground user segments and satellites for the French military space optical observation programme.


About Airbus Defence and Space

Airbus Defence and Space is the number one company in Europe and the third in the world for space technologies. It is a wholly owned subsidiary of AIRBUS Group, dedicated to providing civil and defence space systems and services.

In 2010, Airbus Defence and Space had a turnover of €5 billion and more than 15,000 employees worldwide, mainly 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 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 2010, the Group – comprising Airbus, Airbus Defence and Space, Cassidian and Eurocopter – generated revenues of € 45.8 billion and employed a workforce of nearly 122,000.


Press contacts:

Jeremy Close (Airbus Defence and Space UK)                                                       Tel.: +44 (0)1 438 77 3872

Gregory Gavroy (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


Helios II