Paris created a space force command in July 2019, fearing that rival countries would invest heavily in space technology, seen as a new military frontier.
The satellite “is designed to withstand military attacks from the ground and in space, as well as interference,” French air and space force spokesman Colonel Stéphane Spet told AFP.
The Ariane 5 rocket carrying the Syracuse 4A satellite took off from Kourou, French Guiana, on Saturday evening, the mission having been completed 38 minutes and 41 seconds after takeoff.
The satellite can monitor its immediate surroundings and move to evade an attack.
“Thanks to its state-of-the-art equipment (anti-jamming antenna and on-board transparent digital processor), Syracuse 4A will guarantee high resistance to extreme jamming methods,” wrote launch supplier Arianespace in its mission description.
Marc Finaud, an arms proliferation expert at the Geneva Center for Security Policy, told AFP that the satellite was also protected against electromagnetic pulses that would result from a nuclear explosion.
“This is the last warning scenario, if deterrence fails,” he added.
In March, France began its first military exercises in space to test its ability to defend its satellites, calling them “the first for the French army and even the first in Europe”.
The French government accuses Russia of bringing its Olymp-K intelligence satellite, also known as Louch, into close proximity to the Franco-Italian military satellite Athena-Fidus in 2017, in which Defense Minister Florence Parly called it “an act of espionage. “.
Last year, the United States claimed that Russia carried out a non-destructive test of anti-satellite weapons from space.
In March, the office of French President Emmanuel Macron said there had been other similar incidents since, but gave no details.
Investments in the French space program are expected to reach 4.3 billion euros ($ 5 billion) over the 2019-2025 budget period, although this is a fraction of the amount spent by the United States or China.