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Israel declares its newest spy satellite as operational

Israel Defense Forces’ visual intelligence Unit 9900 will operate the satellite going forward.
From right: Head of Space & Satellite Administration in IMoD, Amnon Harrari, Commander of IDF Unit 9900, IAI EVP & GM of the Systems, Missiles and Space Group, Boaz Levy, IAI Space Division GM, Shlomi Sudri, Commander in IDF Unit 9900.

Israel’s newest spy satellite called Ofek 16 is now operational, three months after it was launched into orbit from central Israel, the Defense Ministry announced.

In a tweet earlier this week, the Defense Ministry said: “Three months since the successful launch of the Ofek 16 satellite into space, the MOD & IAI have completed all the tests necessary for operational activity.”

Control of the electro-optical Ofek-16 satellite was handed over from the ministry to the Israel Defense Forces’ visual intelligence Unit 9900, which will operate it going forward. A small ceremony was conducted for the handover as well.

The satellite was launched into space using a Shavit launch vehicle that took off from a launchpad in the Palmachim air base in central Israel.

According to Israeli officials, the Ofek-16 is slightly more capable than its previous version, the Ofek-11, which was launched into orbit in 2018.