Yahsat contracts Airbus to build Al Yah 4 and Al Yah 5 satellites

Procurement programme, including spacecraft, ground infrastructure, launch and insurance, to cost about $1.1bn

An artist's impression of Al Yah 4 and Al Yah 5 satellites, which will replace Al Yah 1 and Al Yah 2, launched in 2011 and 2012, respectively. Photo: Airbus
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Al Yah Satellite Communications, better known as Yahsat, has signed a deal with Airbus to build its new satellites, Al Yah 4 and Al Yah 5, as it aims to enhance its fleet and expand services.

Airbus Defence and Space will design and build the geostationary telecoms satellites based on the Eurostar Neo platform, the UAE-based satellite solutions provider said on Monday in a filing to the Abu Dhabi Securities Exchange, where its shares are traded.

They will “offer secure governmental communications over a wide geographical area across the Middle East, Africa, Europe and Asia”, it said.

Airbus will design, manufacture and provide ground control components for the two satellites with a 15-year design life. They are planned to be launched in 2027 and 2028, respectively, the company added.

AY4 and AY5 procurement programme, including spacecraft, ground segment infrastructure, launch and insurance, will cost about Dh3.9 billion ($1.1 billion), the company 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,” said chief executive Ali Al Hashemi.

“Additionally, the two new LEO [low Earth orbit] satellite platforms will support Yahsat’s future direction of providing multi-orbit satellite solutions to its customers.”

Founded in 2007, the subsidiary of Abu Dhabi’s sovereign investment arm Mubadala Investment Company offers multi-mission satellite services in more than 150 countries in Europe, the Middle East, Africa, South America, Asia and Australasia.

When it comes to government solutions, the company currently offers its services mainly in the UAE.

However, when Al Yah 4 and Al Yah 5 satellites are launched, it will open “the door to offer more services to other governments for sure”, Mr Al Hashemi told The National in October.

“While we are offering services to other governments as well currently, our capacity will be tripled or quadrupled with Al Yah 4 and Al Yah 5 satellites.”

In September, its government services arm won a new contract worth $5.1 billion from the UAE government to provide satellite capacity and managed services for 17 years, primarily on AY4 and AY5 satellites.

The procurement programme will be funded initially by Yahsat, before receiving Dh3.7 billion as an advance payment from the UAE government, the company said on Monday.

The new satellites will replace Al Yah 1 and Al Yah 2, launched in 2011 and 2012, respectively.

Airbus is also developing the Thuraya 4 (T4) satellite for Yahsat's government solutions segment, and Thuraya, Yahsat's commercial satellite solutions arm.

T4 is based on the Eurostar Neo platform and is scheduled to be launched in the second half of this year, entering service in the second half of 2025.

Updated: June 10, 2024, 11:38 AM