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SICRAL 3 satellite programme reaches critical design review, details on future optical and satcom projects

Thales Alenia Space is responsible for the entire SICRAL 3 telecommunications system, space segment (SICRAL 3A and 3B), as well as the design, production, and integration of the UHF, SHF, and Ka-band payloads. Meanwhile, Telespazio is managing the development of the ground segment. (Thales Alenia Space)

Italy's geostationary (GEO) satellite communications programme SICRAL 3 (Italian System for Secure Communications and Alerts) has reached the critical design review stage, with the satellites – 3A and 3B – expected to launch from 2026 and 2027 respectively, Janes learnt at SAE's Global MilSatCom 2023 conference held from 6 to 9 November in London.

Speaking about SICRAL 3, Brigadier General Davide Cipelletti, chief of the Space General Office for Italian Defence General Staff, said that the “programme represents the leading edge of our capabilities development plan”, with 3A offering services in super-high frequency (SHF) and Ka military bands, while 3B providing ultra-high frequency (UHF) tactical communications.

SICRAL is a constellation of two GEO satellites (1B and 2) that support strategic and tactical communications for the Italian military. SICRAL 3, being delivered by Thales Alenia Space and Telespazio, aims to ensure continuity with the SHF- and UHF-band services provided by the current satellites.

A new satellite programme – SICRAL R1 – has also been approved, detailed in the latest Documento Programmatico Pluriennale (Multi-year Planning Document, DPP) 2023–2025, which will augment and improve the resilience of the SICRAL constellation. The system, Brig Gen Cipelletti said, will provide services in UHF, SHF, and extremely high frequency (EHF) and will be based on a “commercial spacecraft without typical military hardening”.

Following on from this programme is SICRAL 4, currently in the concept phase, which is expected to provide services from 2030–45, Brig Gen Cipelletti added.

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