Israel’s MoD and Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) successfully launched the OFEK 16 national reconnaissance satellite at 4 am on 6 July.
“This is another extraordinary achievement for the defense establishment, for the defense industries as a whole, and for Israel Aerospace Industries in particular. Technological superiority and intelligence capabilities are essential to the security of the State of Israel. The fact that Israel is one of the 13 countries in the world with satellite launching capabilities is not a given, and was made possible by the people who have been investing in these systems and advancing breakthrough capabilities over the years. We will continue to strengthen and maintain Israel's capabilities on every front, in every place” commented Defence Minister Benny Gantz.
Launched from a site in central Israel, using a SHAVIT launcher, the satellite quickly began to orbit Earth and transmit data, in accordance with the original mission planning. Engineers from the MoD and IAI have started a series of pre-planned tests to determine the viability and performance level of the satellite before it begins its full operational activities.
OFEK 16 is an electro-optical reconnaissance satellite with advanced capabilities. Its development follows the production of earlier satellites in the OFEK series, which have been produced and launched since 1988. The Space Administration in the Israeli MoD has led development and production of the satellite and its launcher, while IAI acts as prime contractor, having assigned the programme to its Systems, Missiles and Space Group, together with the MLM Division, which is responsible for launcher development. Elbit Systems developed and manufactured the satellite's advanced camera and payload and the launch engines were developed by Rafael Advanced Defense Systems and Tomer, a government-owned company. Additional companies involved in the programme include Rokar and Cielo.