Saturday, December 19, 2009

Helios-2B Satellite Launched Successfully

DefenceNet reports on the launch of the Helios-2B Satellite on the 18th of December at 18:26 by an Ariane-5 rocket. This satellite will be used by Greece, France, Spain, Belgium and Italy to receive high resolution images from space. The Greek participation allows for the unlimited reception of images on a time-sharing basis with the other users. Each user has the ability to securely use the system to receive images of any area without restriction. The information is sent to national centres for the processing and exploitation of the received images. The Greek centre is based at the Tanagra Air Force base. This is the base where the Greek Mirage 2000-5 are stationed which can carry the SCALP-EG missile.

The images produced by the Helios-2B satellite are instrumental for the creation of digital maps on which terrain models are based which are used for mid-course guidance by the SCALP-EG missiles in the Hellenic Air Force inventory.

The SCALP-EG navigation computer compares terrain relief data received by its sensors and compares these to data of digital maps stored in its memory which were created by the Helios-2B imagery. This data give the missile its mod-course guidance allowing it to make any necessary adjustments to its flight path before the final attack phase begins.

Without the use of the Helios-2B images the use of the SCALP-EG missiles would be problematic and this is one of the reasons for the Greek participation.

This news is very interesting when seen in conjunction with an article by Strategy-Geopolitics about the fact that the Greek Ministry of Defence in response to parliamentary questions stated that the capabilities of the Gokturk programme have been overestimated. Gokturk is a Turkish spy satellite programme which is being monitored closely by the Greek Ministry of Defence. The capabilities of the Gokturk system is regarded as far inferior to those of the Helios-2 and Musis programmes, in which Greece participates.

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