Israel launches advanced Ofek 16 satellite, can monitor Iranian nuclear weapons

Israel is one of only 13 countries in the world capable of launching into space.

By David Isaac, World Israel News

Israeli successfully launched its Ofek-16 (or, “Horizon-16”) satellite at 4:00 a.m. on Monday. It joins a collection of satellites Israel has deployed recently.

Not only the satellite, but its Shavit launcher were developed locally in Israel. The project could be described as all ‘Blue and White,’ a term referring to Israel’s national colors and often used to describe locally produced products.

The satellite has already entered orbit and has undergone initial tests. It will begin transmitting its first pictures next week.

Ofek-16 is a reconnaissance satellite. Although Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) made no comment about the details of its mission, reports have assumed that it will bolster Israel’s ability to monitor Iran, particularly its nuclear weapons development.

Israel is one of the few countries with satellite-reconnaissance capabilities. Iran is another in that elite group.

Defense Minister Benny Gantz tweeted on Monday, “Israel’s technological and intelligence superiority is a cornerstone of its security.”

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“The success of the launch of the satellite tonight is another tremendous achievement for the defense establishment, the security industry in general and the aerospace industry in particular,” he said.

“The fact that Israel is one of 13 countries in the world capable of launching into space is not self-evident and stands first and foremost thanks to the people who have been working on these systems and advancing breakthrough capabilities over the years,” he added.

Israel’s Ofek-16 follows the 2016 launch of Ofek-11. Israel Aerospace Industries wouldn’t comment on the jump in numbers.

“The Ofek-16 is highly advanced, including breakthrough ‘blue and white’ technology that serves our defense interests,” said Shlomi Sudari, who heads IAI’s space program.

“We will continue to strengthen and fortify Israel’s power on every front and everywhere,” Gantz said.

Israeli defense firm Elbit systems, which specializes in electronic defense systems, developed the satellite’s payload.