Yahsat Awards $1.1 Billion Contract to Airbus for New Geostationary Satellites

A futuristic depiction of two geostationary satellites, Al Yah 4 and Al Yah 5, orbiting Earth. The image features a clear view of the satellites with

Al Yah Satellite Communications Company PJSC (Yahsat) has awarded a AED3.9 billion ($1.1 billion) contract to Airbus Defence and Space SAS to build its new geostationary telecommunications satellites, Al Yah 4 and Al Yah 5.

This significant step follows the signing of an Authorisation-to-Proceed with Airbus in Q2 2023 to commence initial activities for the AY4 and AY5 satellite program. In Q3 2023, the UAE Government awarded an AED18.7 billion mandate to Yahsat for the provision of satellite communications capacity and managed services for 17 years, primarily using AY4 and AY5.

Airbus will design and manufacture both satellites, along with providing ground control segment components. Each satellite will have a design life of 15 years, with launches planned for 2027 and 2028, respectively.

The contract covers the full cost of the AY4 and AY5 procurement program, including spacecraft, ground segment infrastructure, and launch and insurance. Yahsat will initially fund the program using its own resources, ahead of receiving an AED3.7 billion advance payment from the UAE Government.

The AY4 and AY5 satellites, based on the Eurostar Neo platform, will feature flexible multi-band payloads that can be reconfigured in orbit, adjusting coverage, capacity, and frequency as needed. These satellites will provide secure governmental communications over the Middle East, Africa, Europe, and Asia, replacing Al Yah 1 and Al Yah 2, which were launched in 2011 and 2012.

Ali Al Hashemi, Group Chief Executive Officer of Yahsat, stated: “We are delighted to sign this contract with Airbus as part of our continuous efforts to enhance our satellite communications capabilities with the next generation of satellites. This is a significant step in Yahsat’s growth trajectory. The Al Yah 4 and Al Yah 5 satellites will enable us to provide the UAE Government with new cutting-edge solutions. Additionally, the two new LEO satellite platforms will support Yahsat’s future direction of providing multi-orbit satellite solutions to its customers.”

Alain Fauré, Head of Space Systems at Airbus, added: “Today marks a real milestone with Yahsat selecting our pioneering fully flexible satellite technology. Sixteen years ago, we signed our first contract with Yahsat, bringing the first sovereign telecommunications satellite to the UAE. And now, our long-standing relationship is moving up a gear with this contract for two Eurostar Neos, further strengthening Yahsat’s in-orbit resources.”

Airbus is also developing the Thuraya 4 satellite (T4) for Yahsat Government Solutions and Yahsat’s commercial satellite solutions arm, Thuraya. T4, based on the Eurostar Neo platform, is scheduled to launch in the second half of 2024 and enter service in the second half of 2025.

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