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AzerCosmos Courted By Airbus In French Race For Central Asian Satellite Market

Artist’s rendition of AzerSky Earth observation satellite. Image courtesy of AzerCosmos.

Airbus Defence and Space has offered to build capacity in and boost the Azerbaijani space industry, according to Airbus Vice-President for Eurasia Silvere Delaunay.

“Airbus has developed important relationships with AzerCosmos. Airbus would like to become part of the Azerbaijan’s space industry as a long term partner for the future by supporting space projects such as telecommunication satellites and intelligence satellite projects,” Delaunay said in an interview with Azerbaijan’s Trend News Agency.

Delaunay said that Airbus intends to create a long-term strategic partnership with AzerCosmos, the national space agency of Azerbaijan, and on creating sustainable value in Azerbaijan’s aerospace sector.

“Airbus has partnered with the Azerbaijan civil and military aerospace sector for more than 10 years. Airbus has been an important solution partner for Azerbaijan working closely especially with AZAL [Azerbaijan Airlines] and AzerCosmos,” said Delaunay.

Delaunay added that Airbus is committed to the Azerbaijani market, saying that, “Airbus is ready and willing to partner with Azerbaijan on all projects where Airbus excels and offers top-notch technologies. They include commercial and military aviation, space, or helicopters.”

Delaunay’s comments come as rival French satellite manufacturer Thales Alenia Space is targeting Central Asia’s satellite market as well, with rumours circulating that it has won a contract to provide Turkmenistan with a high-resolution Earth observation satellite, and is bidding to provide Uzbekistan with a similar satellite.

Last week Uzbekistan signed a space cooperation framework agreement with Centre national des études spatiales (CNES) for the French national space agency to help build capacity and develop the Uzbek space sector. In parallel to this, it is understood that Uzbek officials have been in discussions with Thales Alenia Space executives to partner with the Uzbek government to similarly boost the country’s space industrial base.

While Airbus and Thales Alenia Space often partner with each other to provide Earth observation satellites to other countries (with Airbus providing the satellite bus and Thales Alenia Space the payload), it seems that the two companies are paving their own separate ways in the Central Asian and Caucasus satellite market. Also of interest is the fact that both countries feel able to do business in a region that has normally been the preserve of the Russian space industry, given that much of the region was previously part of the Soviet Union.

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