07/09/2012–The decision to award the construction of Israel’s newest communications satellite to a state-owned company has probably saved the life of the production line and was likely done to preserve independence for defense communications.
The Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) has announced that it was selected in an international tender to produce the Amos 6 communications satellite, which is to replace the Amos 2 sometime in 2016. The deal is worth $200 million and includes a satellite ground control station and operating services.
The firm that chose IAI is the Israeli company Spacecom, a publicly traded company, which will use Amos 6 to bolster its fleet of satellites well into the next decade.
Though small, Israel’s space program is robust and it is only one of eight countries in the world to have produced and launched satellites into space. Its expertise is not just in observation, or “spy” satellites, but in communication satellites as well.
But this recent deal had been a make or break issue for the communications satellite branch of the state-owned IAI, the sole producer of satellites in the country. Spacecom had broken IAI’s monopoly in 2008 when it chose a Russian firm, ISS-Reshetnev, to build Amos 5, which was launched last December.
Since then, IAI says it has improved its competitiveness to offer a better deal. In a statement, IAI said it has “implemented improvements in the engineering and production processes of communication satellites.”
IAI’s new President and CEO Joseph Weiss lauded the deal as a “significant leap forward in the capabilities of IAI and the State of Israel in space.” He added that various components to be developed for Amos 6 would “constitute an additional step toward achieving independence in the development and production of communication satellites.”
Still, the decision to award the Israeli aerospace company the lucrative contract was not entirely commercial. Some analyst say it was necessary for Israel to maintain its independence in space and that having an indigenous capability was not something the defense establishment would like to see fold, despite the costs. IAI reportedly sought intervention by the Ministry of Defense to save the country’s independence satellite capability…Read More>>