An artist’s view Al Yah 4 and Al Yah 5 satellites.
An artist’s view Al Yah 4 and Al Yah 5 satellites. Image Credit: Airbus

Abu Dhabi: ADX-listed UAE’s flagship satellite solutions provider, Al Yah Satellite Communications Company PJSC (Yahsat), announced Monday it has contracted Airbus Defence and Space SAS to build Al Yah 4 (AY4) and Al Yah 5 (AY5) satellites.

Airbus will design and manufacture both satellites and 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 total cost of the AY4 and AY5 procurement programme, encompassing spacecraft, ground segment infrastructure, launch and insurance, is expected to reach approximately Dh3.9 billion ($1.1 billion).

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The company said this step follows the signing of an Authorisation-to-Proceed with Airbus in the second quarter of last year to commence initial activities for the AY4 and AY5 satellite programmes. Subsequently, the government of UAE awarded a Dh18.7 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, Yahsat announced.

“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,” it said. AY4 and AY5 satellites will offer 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, launched in 2011 and 2012, respectively, based on a previous version of the Airbus-built Eurostar platform.

Ali Al Hashemi, Group CEO of Yahsat, said, “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: “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 with this contract for two Eurostar Neos, further strengthening Yahsat’s in-orbit resources.”

The programme will initially be funded using Yahsat’s own resources, ahead of the receipt of Dh3.7 billion ($1 billion) in advance payment from the UAE Government.