France to Launch Euro Missile Warning Sat

Feb 10, 2009
Robert Wall/Paris wall@aviationweek.com

France on Feb. 12 plans to launch missile launch warning satellites, the Spirale system on an Ariane 5, along with a HotBird commercial communications spacecraft.

The Spirale program is the first step for what could eventually be a European equivalent to the U.S. Defense Support Program-Space Based Infrared System constellation. Spirale is merely a demonstration system, but will provide France important infrared data on missile launches that were lacking in Europe.

A European military official points out that up to now, Europeans have had to depend on U.S. data to model ballistic missile infrared signatures. With Spirale, that should no longer be the case.

The two demonstrator satellites, built by EADS' Astrium unit, are expected to be used for about 18 months. Ground control of the system is in Toulouse.

Photo: Astrium

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