On 5 January 2015, Arianespace announced that it has signed a launch services contract with French space agency CNES for the cluster of three new CERES signals intelligence satellites. The Vega light launcher will be used as the launch vehicle.
The CERES (Capacité de Renseignement d’origine Electromagnétique Spatiale) system will enable France to collect, by the year 2020, signals intelligence in areas that are not accessible by surface sensors, under all weather conditions and without any legal constraints concerning overflight zones.
The contracting authority for the CERES program is the French defense procurement agency DGA (Direction Générale de l’Armement), which has chosen Airbus Defence and Space and co-contractor Thales Alenia Space to build the system.
CNES will be involved at this level in an integrated DGA-CNES team, as well as acting as delegated program authority, especially for procurement of launch services.