Airbus to design and build Yahsat’s AY4, AY5 satellites

By Arya M Nair, Official Reporter
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Airbus to build Yahsat satellites
Rep.Image | Courtesy: Airbus

Al Yah Satellite Communications Company (Yahsat), the UAE’s flagship satellite solutions provider listed on the Abu Dhabi Securities Exchange (ADX), has contracted Airbus Defence and Space SAS (Airbus), a leading satellite manufacturer, for its new geostationary telecommunications satellites, Al Yah 4 (AY4) and Al Yah 5 (AY5).

The significant step follows the signing of an Authorization-to-Proceed with Airbus (Airbus ATP) in Q2 2023 to commence initial activities in relation to the AY4 and AY5 satellite program, and the subsequent award by the UAE Government in Q3 2023 of an AED 18.7 billion [$5.1 billion] mandate for the provision of satellite communications capacity and managed services for 17 years, primarily on AY4 and AY5.

Airbus will design and build the AY4 and AY5 satellites based on the Eurostar Neo platform, with each having flexible payloads and benefiting from the strong heritage of the Eurostar family. The flexible multi-band payloads can be fully reconfigured while in orbit, capable of adjusting the coverage area, capacity and frequency “on the fly” to meet evolving mission scenarios.

Both AY4 and AY5 satellites will offer secure governmental communications over a wide geographical area across the Middle East, Africa, Europe and Asia. The new advanced satellites will eventually replace Al Yah 1 and Al Yah 2, which were launched in 2011 and 2012, respectively, and based on a previous version of the Airbus-built Eurostar platform. 

Ali Al Hashemi_Yahsat contracts Airbus for Satellite construction
Ali Al Hashemi
Group CEO – Yahsat

“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, said that, “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 will design and manufacture both satellites and will also provide ground control segment components. Both spacecraft will have a design life of 15 years and are planned to be launched in 2027 and 2028 respectively.

The full cost of the AY4 and AY5 procurement program, encompassing spacecraft, ground segment infrastructure, launch and insurance, is expected to reach approximately AED 3.9 billion [$1.1 billion]. The program will initially be funded using Yahsat’s own resources ahead of the receipt of AED 3.7 billion [$1.0 billion] in the form of an advance payment from the UAE Government.

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

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