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Italy/space and defense cooperation

Published on March 26, 2014
Communiqué issued by the Ministry of Defense

Paris, March 20, 2014

On Friday 14 March 2014, the Direction générale de l’armement (DGA) decided on the entry into service of the Franco-Italian broadband telecommunications satellite Athena-Fidus (Access on Theatres for European allied forces Nations – French Italian Dual Use Satellite).

Since its launch by an Ariane 5 rocket from Kourou on 6 February, Athena-Fidus has been positioned in geostationary orbit, where it has been subjected to all the tests to confirm both that it functions properly and that the French and Italian payloads communicate successfully. Having met these requirements, the capability is now being implemented by the armed forces.

Athena-Fidus is funded jointly by France and Italy to the tune of €140 million each. The French contribution relies on a partnership between the DGA and the French Space Agency (CNES), and, on the Italian side, between the General Defence Secretariat (Segredifesa) and the Italian Space Agency (ASI).

Athena-Fidus provides new broadband satellite telecommunications capabilities to cope with the growing defence and security needs in France and Italy in this area. The satellite complements the Syracuse 3 system, the long-term replacement of which is planned under the COMSAT NG programme.

Operating in Ka-band, Athena-Fidus paves the way for tomorrow’s satellites through an innovative use of the most efficient civil telecommunications standards (DVB-RCS and DVB-S2) for the security and defence of France and its allies.

The system’s contractor is Thales Alenia Space (a joint subsidiary of Thales and Finmeccanica)./.

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