Jerusalem - Azerbaijan’s space agency, Azercosmos, acquired two multi-spectral electro-optical spy satellites from Israel Aerospace Industries as part of the Azersky-2 program.
The Azeri Agency and the Tel Aviv area-based company did not disclose the satellite model or value of the contract in announcing the deal, but both have previously said the agreement is worth about $120 million, and Defense News learned that the model is the OptSat-500.
This is the first announced sale of this new model of the satellite, which is different from the OptSat-3000 supplied to the Israel Defense Forces.
The satellites will replace the Airbus satellite used by Baku, which was launched in 2014 and from which communication was cut off, and will be launched into orbit in 2026 and 2028. According to IAI, the new satellites are capable of taking pictures with a resolution of 50cm, have a lifespan of about 7 years, and Its price is about a third of the OptSat-3000.
The Azersky-2 program includes a long-term business partnership between the Israeli firm and the Azercosmos in the establishment of innovation, entrepreneurship, academic and study ecosystem in the field of space. The deal also brings Israel reconnaissance capabilities closer to the Iranian border that Azerbaijan shares.
Azerbaijan is one of the IAI’s and IDF’s largest customers, procuring weapons that played a key role in the conflict with Armenia over the Nagorno-Karabakh region.
“This project is unique for both Azercosmos and Israel Aerospace Industries, and will undoubtedly contribute to the development of space cooperation between our countries,” Samaddin Asadov, Azercosmos’ chairman, said in a statement. “I consider our cooperation to be an important step in the development of human capital and space technologies in the country.”
Tzally Greenberg is the Israel correspondent for Defense News. He has experience reporting on economic affairs as well as defense and cyber companies.