Thales Alenia Space Awarded Contract to Build South Korean Reconnaissance Satellite Network

Thales Alenia Space has signed two contracts to develop a constellation of high-resolution observation radar satellites under the 425 Project for the South Korean Agency for Defense Development (ADD). The contracts are with Korea Aerospace Industries Ltd. (KAI), the consortium leader, and Hanwha Systems Corporation (HSC).

synthetic aperture radar satellite for 425 Project
Artist’s rendition of 425 Project SAR Satellite. Source: Thales Alenia Space

The 425 Project is a program to develop a constellation of four radar satellites for the South Korean military. South Korea initiated the program in June 2014 as a way to monitor its increasingly belligerent neighbor, North Korea. The KAI/HSC/Thales team competed against, and eventually overcame, a team consisting of LIG Nex1 and Airbus Defence and Space for the roughly $930 million contract.

Under the terms of the contracts, technical cooperation and several know-hows required for the SAR (Synthetic Aperture Radar) Satellites development will be transferred to Korean companies, up to a maximum involvement in the production of the last satellite of the Constellation.

For the four satellites, Thales Alenia Space will provide the SAR Payloads and the platform elements (especially for Control Momentum Gyro and sensors)  derived from the HE-R1000 product (High Efficiency Radar), part of the Thales Alenia Space Observation product family that includes both radar and optical satellites. This technology will enable short revisit times for each of the satellites, and support all-weather operation.

Thales Alenia Space did not reveal expected launch dates for the program, but previous news about the 425 Project indicated that a launch is expected in 2023.