Airbus Defence and Space and its partners are to build two Falcon Eye high-performance optical earth-observation satellites for the the United Arab Emirates (UAE) Armed Forces.

Thales Alenia Space is the co-prime contractor in the contract that was signed with the UAE in August. The contract has now come into force.

The partners will develop, manufacture and launch the two satellites and also provide a ground system for monitoring, receiving and processing images.

Engineers from the UAE will be trained to control and operate the satellites once in orbit.

The Falcon Eye satellite system will offer high-resolution optical capabilities to the armed forces.

Airbus Defence and Space head of space systems Francois Auque said: "The Falcon Eye high-performance earth-observation satellite system will provide an unrivalled observation capability to the Emirate’s Armed Forces.

"This very wide-ranging cooperation programme is, along with the Yahsat communication satellite system, another example of the sustainable cooperation between Airbus Defence and Space and the United Arab Emirates."

Thales Alenia Space will provide high-performance, very-high-resolution optical payload, the image data transmission subsystem, the ground image processing system, and co-engineering and validation of the overall system.

"This very wide-ranging cooperation programme is another example of the sustainable cooperation between Airbus Defence and Space and the United Arab Emirates."

Meanwhile, Thales Alenia has started construction of a new building at its Cannes facility.

To be a part of the company’s spaceborne optical observation programmes, the new building will be used for the integration and testing of high-resolution optical observation instruments.

Thales Alenia said that the building will support the growth of export sales for high-resolution observation systems.

Thales Alenia said: "For Thales Alenia Space, this new building dedicated to high-resolution optics represents a major economic and strategic challenge.

"It will help the company efficiently address the changing requirements of a booming global market, as shown by the Falcon Eye contract for the United Arab Emirates, which entered into force today."

Image: Thales Alenia’s new building will support export sales such as the UAE’s Falcon Eye contract. Photo: courtesy of Thales Group.