United Arab Emirates launches new satellite with dual-use capabilities

The United Arab Emirates will launch its latest reconnaissance satellite, Falcon Eye 1, from the Guiana Space Centre in South

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Photo: Reuters

The United Arab Emirates will launch its latest reconnaissance satellite, Falcon Eye 1, from the Guiana Space Centre in South America today.

This will be the UAE’s tenth satellite in orbit and its fourth reconnaissance satellite, making it a geospatial development leader in the Middle East.

Falcon Eye 1 is the first of two reconnaissance satellites arising from an Emirati-French agreement. As the most capable optics France has sold to a foreign country, the Falcon Eyes will be able to take ground images across a 20km swathe anywhere in the world 24 hours a day.

Along with civilian uses, the Falcon Eye 1’s main responsibility will be to send images to the UAE’s military so that they can “strengthen national security” along their borders and coast. The Emiratis’ vulnerabilities were highlighted recently when Iran attacked vessels nearby the Fujairah emirate in the Strait of Hormuz, through which a fifth of the world’s oil passes.

Expect the UAE to strengthen its geospatial relations with the West to further develop its intelligence capabilities. Although not yet a geospatial powerhouse, expect Abu Dhabi to become more reliant on such technologies as geopolitical tensions with Iran heat up.

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