Yahsat System Certified To Operate with WGS Terminals

by

WASHINGTON — The United Arab Emirates’ Yahsat satellite system has been certified for use with the U.S. Air Force’s Wideband Global Satcom (WGS) global satellite communications constellation, meaning WGS terminals will be interoperable with Yahsat’s Ka-band military satellite frequencies, Yahsat Deputy Chief Executive Masood M. Sharif Mahmood said March 20.

The certification means that in addition to the 10 WGS satellites either in orbit or under construction, WGS users will be able to access bandwidth in a large swath of the Middle East, Central Asia and Africa covered by Yahsat.

The Yahsat 1B satellite, launched in 2012, has both military and civil Ka-band capacity, as well as a C-band payload. Its principle customer is the United Arab Emirates armed forces.

Boeing Space and Intelligence Systems of El Segundo, Calif., prime contractor on the WGS satellites, failed in its bid to build the Yahsat satellite network, which also includes a Yahsat 1A satellite. Yahsat 1A, launched in 2011, also includes a Ku-band payload.

But Boeing and Yahsat have concluded an agreement whereby Boeing will be a reseller, mainly to the U.S. government, of Yahsat Ka-band bandwidth.

Boeing also has purchased a large share of the military Ka-band capacity being placed on the three Inmarsat Global Xpress satellites, which are scheduled for launch into geostationary orbit starting late this year for London-based Inmarsat. Inmarsat too has made its military Ka-band system compatible with WGS.

Inmarsat is positioning its Boeing-built Global Xpress satellites to maximize their potential to satisfy unmet demand for WGS capacity in a given geographic area.

Boeing Commercial Satellite Services, a company that was formed in 2012 in part to sell Global Xpress, also is becoming a large reseller of L-band satellite capacity following deals with UAE-based Thuraya Satellite Communications, and with Inmarsat. Inmarsat is a longtime operator of L-band satellites.

Boeing officials have said they hope to simplify access to L-band for U.S. government agencies.

Boeing is the prime contractor of the Thuraya satellite system and remains a small shareholder in the company.

Two European manufacturers, Astrium Satellites and Thales Alenia Space, jointly built the two Yahsat satellites and the related operating center as part of a $1.7 billion contract signed in 2007.

The European team is now competing with Boeing, and with other satellite builders, for a contract to build the Ka-band Yahsat 1C satellite. A decision on a winner is expected in the coming weeks.

The Yahsat 1A satellite suffered a loss of C-band capacity in 2012, an anomaly due to a circuitry problem. Shawkat Ahmed, chief commercial officer of Yahsat, said March 21 during the Satellite 2013 conference that the issue has been resolved and should not recur.

In addition to its military market, Yahsat is using its satellites to deploy consumer broadband and television services in its coverage area, the latter in partnership with satellite fleet operator SES of Luxembourg.