Israel has launched a new spy satellite with advanced imaging capabilities, the defence ministry said.
The Ofek-13 military satellite was launched into orbit on Wednesday at 2310 GMT (02:10 am local time) from a site in central Israel, the ministry said.
“We will continue to prove that even the sky isn’t the limit for the Israeli defence establishment and that we continue to enhance its capabilities in every dimension in the face of various challenges,” the ministry said in a statement.
Developed with state-owned Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI), Ofek-13 is due to be transferred to a military intelligence unit, the ministry said.
“The ‘Ofek-13’ is the most advanced of its kind with unique radar observation capabilities and will enable intelligence collection in any weather and conditions of visibility,” IAI chief Boaz Levy said in the same statement.
Israel joined the club of space powers in 1988 with the deployment of its first Ofek (Horizon in Hebrew) satellite.
In 2020, Israel launched a spy satellite that would help the country monitor Iran’s nuclear activity.
The “Ofek 16” satellite gives Israel what officials described as an additional tool in keeping tabs on many threats from across the region, joining a fleet of Israeli spy satellites that have been launched over the past two decades.
While officials did not identify specific threats, arch-enemy Iran, which Israel accuses of trying to develop nuclear weapons, is first among them.
The launch came a day after Iran finally acknowledged that a mysterious fire damaged a new centrifuge assembly centre in Iran’s underground Natanz nuclear site, with suspicion immediately falling on Israel.