Isreal launches spy satellite to provide surveillance for military intelligence

by Maruf Adedeji

Israel has launched a new spy satellite in order to provide high-quality surveillance for its military intelligence.

While disclosing this on Monday July 7, 2020, Israeli authorities said the new spy satellite recently launched would provide high-quality surveillance for its military intelligence.

The middle eastern county has been building up its surveillance capabilities to monitor enemies such as Iran, whose nuclear programme it sees as a major threat.

“Our network of satellites lets us watch the entire Middle East – and even a bit more than that,” said Shlomi Sudari, the head of space programme for Israeli Airspace Industries.

The Palmachim air base in central Isreal at 4 a.m. on Monday, July, 2020, hosted launching of the new spy satellite, called Ofek-16, which was fired into space by a locally-developed Shavit rocket used to launch the previous Ofek satellites.

This was the first launch of an Israeli spy satellite into space since the Ofek-11 in September, 2016.

The penultimate Ofek-11 experienced initial technical issues shortly after launch, but engineers on the ground were able to stabilize it and get it working.

However, the latest launch of Opek-16 had no issues, according to the defense ministry.

“We will continue to strengthen and maintain Isreal’s capabilities on every front and in every place,” said Defence Minister Benny Gantz.

Isreal’s Defence Ministry called Ofek-16 “an electro-optical reconnaissance satellite with advanced capabilities”.

Defence firm Elbit Systems developed the satellite’s playload and state-owned Israel Aerospace Industries was the main contractor for the project.

In 2019, Isreal launched the Amos-17 communications satellite into orbit from Cape Canaveral, Florida.

Defence Ministry officials refused to comment on the jump in the name, from Ofek-11 to Ofek-16.

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