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Israel launches new spy satellite

July 6, 2020 at 4:36 pm

A man looks at a display of rockets from Elbit Systems UK including the Predator Hawk (L) and the Extra (2L) as delegates enjoy drinks at the end of day one of the DSEI arms fair at ExCel on September 10, 2019 [Leon Neal/Getty Images]

Israel has launched a new spy satellite that it claims will enhance its surveillance capabilities for military intelligence purposes. The announcement was made by the Ministry of Defence.

The satellite Ofek 16 was launched from a site in central Israel by a locally-developed Shavit rocket of a type used to launch previous Ofek satellites.

“During the initial period of operation, the satellite will undergo a series of tests to determine its propriety and performance level,” tweeted defence officials.

State-owned Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) was the main contractor for the project and the satellite’s payload was developed by defence firm Elbit Systems.

READ: Israel’s military checkpoints are places made for its colonial violence

The company also sells weapons to the Israeli military used in attacks on Palestinians.

According to IAI, Ofek 16 is an electro-optical reconnaissance satellite with advanced capabilities. No precise details of the satellite’s mission were provided, but according to Haaretz, it was mentioned on Israeli public radio that it would be used to monitor the nuclear programme of regional rival Iran, which is seen as a major threat to Israel.

“Technological superiority and intelligence capabilities are essential to the security of the State of Israel,” explained Defence Minister Benny Gantz. He described the launch as an “extraordinary achievement” for the country’s defence industry. “We will continue to strengthen and maintain Israel’s capabilities on every front, in every place.”