Azerbaijan's Azercosmos Acquires Advanced Spy Satellites from Israel Aerospace Industries
Baku/05.10.23/Turan: In a landmark deal that marks a significant advancement in Azerbaijan's space capabilities, Azercosmos, the country's space agency, has acquired two multi-spectral electro-optical spy satellites from Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI). The acquisition is part of the Azersky-2 program, a strategic initiative that promises to bolster Azerbaijan's surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities.This is reported by the international publication C4ISRNET, specializing in the field of defense and intelligence.
Both Azercosmos and Israel Aerospace Industries, based in the Tel Aviv area, have remained tight-lipped about the specific satellite model or the exact financial terms of the contract. However, earlier reports suggested that the agreement's estimated value hovers around $120 million. Defense News has revealed that the acquired satellite model is the OptSat-500, marking the first known sale of this particular satellite variant.
Differing from the OptSat-3000, which has been supplied to the Israel Defense Forces, the OptSat-500 boasts advanced capabilities that make it a game-changer in the world of satellite technology. These new satellites are slated to replace the Airbus satellite currently utilized by Baku, which was launched in 2014 and experienced a communication cutoff.
The new satellites, set to be launched into orbit in 2026 and 2028, are designed to capture high-resolution images with a remarkable 50cm resolution. With a projected lifespan of approximately seven years, these advanced satellites offer superior performance at a fraction of the price when compared to the OptSat-3000.
The Azersky-2 program extends beyond satellite acquisition and underscores a broader, long-term partnership between the Israeli firm and Azercosmos. This partnership aims to foster innovation, entrepreneurship, and academic collaboration in the field of space, contributing to the development of a robust space ecosystem.
Beyond the technological implications, this deal has geopolitical significance. It positions Israel's reconnaissance capabilities closer to the Iranian border, a shared frontier between Azerbaijan and Iran. Azerbaijan has been a key customer for both Israel Aerospace Industries and the Israel Defense Forces, procuring weapons that played a pivotal role in the conflict with Armenia over the Nagorno-Karabakh region.
Samaddin Asadov, Chairman of Azercosmos, hailed the deal as a pivotal moment in the development of space cooperation between the two nations. "This project is unique for both Azercosmos and Israel Aerospace Industries and will undoubtedly contribute to the development of space cooperation between our countries," he stated. "I consider our cooperation to be an important step in the development of human capital and space technologies in the country."
The acquisition of these advanced spy satellites represents a significant stride in Azerbaijan's technological prowess and its commitment to advancing its space capabilities in the international arena.