The Turkish government has selected Airbus Defense and Space to build two telecommunications satellites after a long international bidding process, Turkish MInister for Transport, Maritime Affairs and Communications Ahmet Arslan said. In most cases, the selection of a winning bid is all but certain to result in a signed contract shortly thereafter. But the Turkish government has a reputation to be a particularly demanding customer, and Arelan said negotiations on contract price had not yet been concluded. The discussions are likely to be all the more complicated insofar as Turkey set a requirement that at least 25% of the value of Turksat 5B be given to Turkish industry. But in a year that so far has witnessed only a handful of commercial geostationary-satellite contracts, the Turkish order stands out alongside the SES order for seven medium-orbit satellites from Boeing, and EchoStar/Hughes’s order of a Jupiter 3 consumer broadband satellite from SSL.
Turksat Chief Executive Cenk Sen told the World Satellite Business Conference on Sept. 11 that the Turksat 5B program is viewed as a warm-up exercise for the Turksat 6A, intended to be Turkey’s first domestically built telecommunications spacecraft. Sen said the goal is to have all three satellites in orbit by 2020. Turkey’s rights some of the Ku-band spectrum the satellites will use end in mid-2021, he said, which is one reason Turksat authorities are in a hurry to launch. Turkish authorities view a domestic satellite industry — or at least an industry capable of manufacturing satellite components for other prime contractors — as a way of stimulating Turkey’s technology center. Arslan said Turkey’s goal is to have 10 operational satellites in orbit by 2023, and to place Turkey among the world’s top-10 satellite fleet operators in terms of revenue. Sen said “Turksat revenue, in what he conceded was a rough economic climate in the past year, nonetheless grew by 12% in 2016.”