An optoelectronic reconnaissance satellite packed with a number of advanced capabilities has been launched by Israel from the nation’s launch complex in the center of the country.
Named Ofek-16, the launch occurred at 4:00 a.m. on July 6. A Shavit launch vehicle lifted the satellite to orbit from the Palmachim airbase. This new spy satellite is the latest in the nation’s Ofek series and is a follow-up to the Ofek-11 which gained orbit in 2016.
Full operation of the satellite is expected shortly after a series of tests are completed. Once fully operational, Ofek-16 will be operated by the Israel Defense Force’s Unit 9900, a unit that handles and controls the nation’s intelligence gathering satellites.
The launch of this satellite is a “mighty achievement for the defense establishment, the defense industries in general and Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) in particular,” stated Israel’s Defense Minister, Benny Gants.
The nation launched their first satellite — the Ofek 1 — in 1998.