Azerbaijan has chosen Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) to supply two satellites for USD 120 million. Israeli Foreign Minister Eli Cohen confirmed the deal during his visit to Baku last week. Azerbaijan currently operates two communications and one Earth observation satellite. However, its national space agency, Azercosmos, reported last week that it had lost contact with the Earth observation satellite a year before it was due to complete its mission. The agency ascertained that the satellite was damaged by space debris or a meteorite, and attempts to restore communications failed.
This satellite procurement deal with IAI could be part of a new project to develop a higher-resolution observation satellite to replace the lost one. In a statement, Azercosmos said it had launched a project for a new, higher-resolution observation satellite project, which responds to the challenges of modern technological development per the wishes of local institutions.
IAI has been involved in the satellite business since the 1980s and has launched the entire Ofek family of spy satellites. The latest addition to this family, Ofek 13, was launched in March. Additionally, the company develops research and communication satellites, and satellite ground stations and has played a major role in developing the Amos family of communication satellites. Last year, IAI introduced two new models, the Mini Communications Satellite and the OptSAR-550 microsatellite, equipped with advanced technology to photograph the earth’s surface at night and under complete cloud cover.
IAI has not yet commented on the reports regarding the satellite deal with Azerbaijan. However, Israel has had a strong relationship with Azerbaijan for many years. It sold the country billions of dollars worth of advanced military technology, including radar, air defence systems, anti-tank and ballistic missiles, ships, and drones. It has also supplied advanced spy tech, such as communications monitoring systems and the Pegasus spyware from the NSO Group.