The spacecraft will provide 24-hour monitoring capabilities, and will be run by the IDF’s 9900 intelligence unit.
Okef 13 satellite launch on March 29, 2023, Palmachim Airbase, central Israel. Photo credit: Israel Ministry of Defense Spokesperson's Office
Israel on Wednesday successfully launched the latest version of its Ofek reconnaissance satellites, the Israeli Defense Ministry said in a statement.
“Ofek 13” was blasted into low orbit from Palmachim Airbase in central Israel aboard a “Shavit” missile, on a westward trajectory over the Mediterranean Sea to avoid falling into enemy hands in the case of a malfunction and crash.
The advanced spy satellite is a project of the Defense Ministry’s Space and Satellite Administration in the Directorate of Defense Research & Development, the Israel Defense Forces and Israel Aerospace Industries.
“The successful launch of the satellite is yet another important example of the Israeli defense establishment’s groundbreaking innovation,” Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant said following the launch.
DDRD head IDF Brig. Gen. (res.) Daniel Gold said, “The launch of ‘Ofek 13’ has proven Israel’s superiority in the field of space yet again. It also constitutes a leap forward in operational and technological abilities for the preservation and improvement of Israel’s standing in space for the coming decades.”
According to the Defense Ministry, the satellite has completed an initial round of tests and begun transmitting data. Once declared fully operational, the IDF’s 9900 intelligence unit will take over from the Defense Ministry.
The first in the Ofek series of satellites was launched in 1988.