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8 February 2022
Paris La Défense
Thales to equip French military tanker aircraft
with secure satcom solution
In 2025, Thales will deliver satellite stations to the French Ministry of the Armed Forces. Once
integrated into the Phénix MRTT1 tanker aircraft, these stations will enable broadband
connections anywhere in the world, and will be able to withstand jamming in aggressive
electromagnetic environments.
The high availability of these stations, their compact design and flexibility of integration make
them high-performance tools capable of connecting large military or government aircraft such
as the MRTT, A400M and AWACS.
The contract is the first of its kind in Europe, and further consolidates Thales's leadership in
secure, resilient satellite connectivity and its ability to provide a sovereign solution backed by
the know-how of France’s defence industrial and technological base.
Multi Role Tanker Transport (MRTT) and view of the satcom station integrated on the fuselage – © French Air and Space Force
As part of France’s SYRACUSE IV military satellite telecommunication programme, the
French defence procurement agency (DGA) has awarded Thales and its partners the 17year MELISSA2 contract for the development, integration and support of aircraft satcom
To meet the connectivity needs of the French Air and Space Force as high-intensity conflict returns,
Thales will provide a resilient, high-data-rate satellite station capable of connecting large military aircraft
in all circumstances.
The Thales terminal is derived from a proven satcom product that has accumulated over 30,000 flight
hours on commercial airliners. The militarised version is specifically designed to maintain connectivity
with command centres in jammed environments and severely degraded flight and weather conditions.
Multi Role Tanker Transport
Marché d’ELaboration d’Intégration et de soutien des Stations Satcom Aéronautiques
GROUP COMMUNICATIONS – Thales – Tour Carpe Diem – 31 Place des Corolles – 92098 Paris La Défense
Cedex – France – Tel: +33 (0)1 57 77 86 26 – www.thalesgroup.com
8 February 2022
Paris La Défense
It operates with France’s SYRACUSE IV sovereign satellite system and is also compatible with any
allied military or commercial satellites.
This ARINC3 standard satcom station uses the military and civilian Ka bands. It is installed on the
fuselage of large aircraft, such as the MRTT tanker, A400M transport and AWACS surveillance planes.
The Thales teams and their partners successfully overcame a host of technical challenges to design a
highly compact device, despite aeronautical and electromagnetic constraints, achieve extremely highprecision pointing to maintain a stable link with the satellite during aircraft manoeuvres, and manage
cyber threats.
This first in aviation further consolidates Thales’s leadership in the European market for secure, resilient
military satellite communications. For over 10 years, Thales has provided critical STANAG 4606
compliant communications for NATO and the land and naval forces of 12 countries in Europe, the
Middle East and Asia.
The industrial organisation put in place by Thales for the MELISSA contract includes partners
recognised by the DGA, such as the French SME Eclipse,4 as well as Thales’s Gennevilliers and Cholet
industrial competence centres and its Brive production facility. This organisation will guarantee timely
delivery of the contract and the long-term sovereignty of the supply chain, and will consolidate the
expertise of France’s defence technological and industrial base in the area of satellite technology.
“The DGA’s decision to equip France’s military tanker aircraft with our secure satellite
communication solution is a source of great pride for the Thales teams and reflects our unique
know-how and European leadership in secure, resilient satellite connectivity. This ultra-high
performance sovereign solution will be a key asset for the French forces engaged in high-intensity
conflict missions.” Jean-Claude Schmitt, Vice President, Network and Infrastructure
Systems, Thales.
About Thales
Thales (Euronext Paris: HO) is a global high technology leader investing in digital and “deep tech”
innovations — connectivity, big data, artificial intelligence, cybersecurity and quantum technology —
to build a future we can all trust, which is vital to the development of our societies. The Group provides
solutions, services and products that help its customers —businesses, organisations and states — in
the defence, aeronautics, space, transportation and digital identity and security markets to fulfil their
critical missions, by placing humans at the heart of the decision-making process.
Thales has 81,000 employees in 68 countries. In 2020, the Group generated sales of €17 billion.
Thales, Media Relations
Defence Aerospace
Anne-Sophie Malot (+596 696 02 71 26)
Thales Group
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Aeronautical Radio, Incorporated
Eclipse Global Connectivity home page: https://www.eclipseglobalconnectivity.com/
GROUP COMMUNICATIONS – Thales – Tour Carpe Diem – 31 Place des Corolles – 92098 Paris La Défense
Cedex – France – Tel: +33 (0)1 57 77 86 26 – www.thalesgroup.com