Poland to purchase French satellites from Airbus for military use

French-made observation satellites, able to provide high-quality photographs, will be used by the Polish military in a €1 billion contract

editor: Grzegorz Adamczyk
author: Maciej Miłosz
Image of Pleiades satellite (Source: earth.esa.int)

Poland’s Ministry of Defense will procure two observation satellites from French Airbus, the Dziennik Gazeta Prawna (DGP) newspaper reported on Tuesday.

In June, Polish Defense Minister Mariusz Błaszczak announced the plan to acquire two observation satellites from the French partners. According to a press report, the negotiations took longer than expected but the contract is due to be signed in the coming weeks.

All details regarding acquiring and functioning of observation satellites with the receiving station in Poland will be specified in the contract, spokesman of the Armaments Agency Lieutenant Colonel Krzysztof Płatek told the daily.

Negotiations with Airbus revolve around two topics. First, Poland wants to acquire satellites that will be able to provide high-quality photographs allowing for identifying infrastructure and vehicles of a potential enemy with ease. One pixel is to show a 30 square centimeter part of Earth’s surface, which will allow images that reveal the silhouettes of people but not what they are holding, for example.

The second topic is future Polish-French government cooperation regarding “reconnaissance based on electromagnetic radiation and satellite communication.” The paper believes that this cooperation will include the use of six Airbus Pléiades and Pléiades Neo satellites.

Acquiring its own satellites involves a number of bureaucratic requirements on the Polish government. “Space agencies need to be informed, frequencies in the International Telecommunication Union need to be acquired, and the satellite need to be registered in the U.N.,” points out DGP.

The lack of necessary legislation and an entity that would be dealing with this is an additional problem. “We should expect projects of appropriate regulations in the near future,” the paper reported.

DGP concluded that the program to acquire French systems could be the basis for rebuilding Polish-French security relations “that were hurt due to Poland not signing a negotiated contract for Caracal helicopters.”

The contract, that is said to cost around €1 billion, will be a massive change for Poland’s armed forces that currently already use imaging provided by Airbus.

In current practice, the photographs arrive to the Polish side after a couple of hours. After the Polish satellites are put into space, the Polish military will be able to use the photographs instantly.

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