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Singapore Targeted By France’s Thales Alenia Space For High-Resolution Earth Observation Satellite

Singapore from space. Image courtesy of NASA.

Thales Alenia Space, one of France’s leading satellite manufacturers, is mounting an intense marketing campaign in Singapore to sell the small Southeast-Asian city-state a high-resolution Earth observation satellite.

According to Intelligence Online, Thales Alenia Space intends to offer Singapore a high-end satellite system with resolution as low as 30 centimetres. Thales Alenia Space has a local subsidiary in Singapore called Thales Solutions Asia that is spearheading the effort to market and sell the satellite offering to Singaporean officials.

Led by its Chief Executive Officer Kevin Chow Chek Nam, Thales Solutions Asia is exploiting its French and Singaporean contacts to sell the Earth observation satellite. Kevin Chow Chek Nam, for example, is a graduate of the French Ecole Nationale de l’Aviation Civile in Toulouse, France, and is a former head of the European department of the Singaporean Economic Development Board, charged with bringing European investment into Singapore. Further, he is also the former vice-president of Singapore Technologies (ST) Engineering’s aerospace branch.

Thales Alenia Space has already established a presence in Singapore through its partnership with the Nanyang Technical University’s S4TIN (Smart Small Satellite Systems – Thales in NTU) satellite laboratory that aims to build and market sophisticated small satellites to the Southeast Asian market. The first satellite to be built by S4TIN is to be an Automatic Identification System (AIS) satellite to monitor shipping traffic around Singapore.

Thales Alenia Space seems to be confident that it has the right offering at the right time in what is a reputedly tough Singaporean market. DigitalGlobe has a longstanding relationship with Singapore, with the city-state enjoying unfettered access to the full panoply of the company’s capabilities. ST Electronics, a subsidiary of ST Engineering, is in partnership with Orbital ATK (now a part of Northrop Grumman) to build and market high-resolution Earth observation microsatellites. Thales’ main rival and collaborator, Airbus Defence and Space, also has a relationship with ST Electronics with the provision of satellite imagery from SPOT.

Finally, there have been persistent rumours that Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) has been marketing a commercial version of the Israeli military’s Ofek reconnaissance satellite. It is also believed that Israel has shared Ofek satellite imagery with Singapore in the past.

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