Al Yah Satellite Communications Company PJSC (Yahsat), the UAE’s flagship satellite solutions provider announced today that it has contracted Airbus Defence and Space, 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 Authorisation-to-Proceed with Airbus in Q2 2023 to commence initial activities in relation to the AY4 and AY5 satellite programme.

Airbus will design and build the AY4 and AY5 satellites based on the Eurostar Neo platform, with each having flexible payloads and benefitting 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.

Alain Fauré, head of Space Systems at Airbus, said: “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.”

Ali Al Hashemi, group CEO of Yahsat, said: “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.”

Airbus will design and manufacture both AY4 and AY5 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.

Airbus is currently developing the Thuraya 4 (“T4”) satellite to serve both Yahsat’s UAE government customer and Thuraya’s customers. The 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.

The development of Airbus’ Eurostar Neo platform and flexible payloads has been supported by the European Space Agency (ESA) and national space agencies across Europe.
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