Saudi Arabian-based Arabsat is reportedly close to ordering two satellites from Lockheed-Martin. Arabsat’s official statement, issued at the Dubai CabSat show, said: “Arabsat is in the final stages of bidding and awarding the manufacturing and launch of its new satellites, at different orbital positions, for Europe, the Middle East and Africa.”
The report that Lockheed-Martin is a probable winner of what are usually extremely tough contract negotiations is a surprise, especially given that Arabsat has excellent relations with European suppliers Thales Alenia and the former Astrium/EADS (now Airbus Defence & Space). Arabsat’s last contract was with Thales Alenia and covered the j-v dual payload with Inmarsat (Arabsat calls the craft HellasSat-3 while Inmarsat has dubbed its half of the satellite EuropaSat).
Thales and Astrium are also building Badr-7 (originally called Badr-6B) and due for launch this year (probably in July).
The current plan covers one ‘Arabsat’ new satellite for the HellasSat fleet and another for its own use. A potential third satellite contract is still to be awarded.