How Russia spies on France


“In love as in war, to conclude, it is necessary to see it up close”. The saying attributed to military strategist, Bonaparte’s reasoning is up to the firmament, since, on 7 September in Toulouse, the minister for the Armed forces has openly criticized Russia for having spied a French satellite. This is a heavy accusation that would have been able to cause a diplomatic incident. Except that Florence Parly has evidence from which a series of photographs that obtained the Express. Certainly, the image (below) of trajectories boils down to three tiny points lost in the vacuum of space, but it shows the position very close between the two vessels. This pursuit race in geostationary orbit (36 000 km altitude) is followed from the ground by GEOTracker, a network of 6 telescopes (Chile, Spain, France, Australia), designed by ArianeGroup which rents its services to the joint Command of the space (CIE). “We are monitoring this satellite and Russian Luch Olymp for many months, and, unlike the others who are at a specific location above the Earth, it flits off from one point to another, says a source in-house. He has made several attempts to approach before you leave and visit other targets. For us, undoubtedly, it is a vessel inspector, created to spy.”

trajectories of the spy satellite Luch Olymp near the satellite of the franco-Italian Athena-Fidus


But what good is likely to approach as well ? “The closer you are, the easier it is to intercept the information,” says the specialist. In the event, the minister stated that no “sensitive data” had been exploited by the Russians. The satellite Athena-Fidus, launched in 2014, is one of the most sophisticated available to the France. This big baby (3 tons) has 14 antennas for telecommunications and very high-speed (3 gigabit per second) and above all encrypted (in “K-band”). It is used primarily to relay to manage crisis situations on land, where are our troops, particularly to perform video conferences, establish medical diagnoses at a distance, or more importantly, receiving the images acquired by our aerial drones.

one of The six ground-based telescope network GEOTracker developed by ArianeGroup


Still, this episode “unfriendly” denounced by Florence Parly is not the first time. Worse, it seems to be recurring. Two years ago, during a parliamentary hearing, general Jean-Daniel Tested who was at the head of the joint command of the area had reported several maneuvers similar in 2011,2013 and 2015. His successor in the CIE in 2017, Jean-Pascal Breton has reiterated these statements still in the national Assembly. In this sense, today, the specialists have the certainty that the great powers – Russia, China and the United States -have, in recent years, increased the systems to go and listen to and observe closely the satellites of other countries.

This threat is so pervasive. In addition, these vessels malicious, approaching closer to our satellites strategic military could not just to listen but to make them ineffective – either by jamming the communications or by making them blind, either by destroying them by the use of microwaves or even lasers. This is what wants to highlight the minister for the Armed forces : “The space exo-atmospheric beyond the atmosphere) became the arena of rivalry of the great powers.” It is, therefore, of our national sovereignty. Hence the urgency to develop the means to monitor and act in space. Florence Parly has therefore announced that it propose to the president of the Republic on a space strategy for defence before the end of the year. The star war is only beginning.


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