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Yahsat appoints Airbus to build $1.1bn new satellites

Rendering of Yahsat's Al Yah 4 and Al Yah 5 satellites

Al Yah Satellite Communications Company, known as Yahsat, has appointed a unit of US-headquartered Airbus Group to manufacture its two new geostationary telecommunications satellites.

The company initially authorised Airbus Defence and Space to commence activities on the Al Yah 4 (AY4) and Al Yah 5 (AY5) satellite programme in the second quarter of 2023.

Airbus will design and build the AY4 and AY5 satellites so they have enough flexibility to be reconfigured while in orbit and adjust the coverage area, capacity and frequency of future mission scenarios.

Both satellites will offer secure governmental communications over a wide geographical area across the Middle East, Africa, Europe and Asia.

The new advanced satellites will replace Al Yah 1 and Al Yah 2, launched in 2011 and 2012, respectively. They will have a design life of 15 years and are planned to be launched in 2027 and 2028, respectively.

The total cost of the programme, including spacecraft, ground segment infrastructure, launch and insurance, is expected to reach AED3.9 billion ($1.1 billion).

Yahsat will self-fund the programme initially, before receiving the UAE government’s advance payment of AED3.7 billion.

Airbus is developing the Thuraya 4 satellite for Yahsat Government Solutions and its commercial satellite solutions arm, Thuraya. The satellite is due to be launched in the second half of 2024 and enter service in the second half of 2025.

Last September, Yahsat won an AED18.7 billion contract from the UAE government to provide satellite capacity and managed services for 17 years.

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