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Israel launches new surveillance satellite

The Israeli Ministry of Defense has launched its latest surveillance satellite, Ofek-13, which will be operated by the IDF's 9900 Intelligence Unit, part of the Directorate of Military Intelligence. (Israel Ministry of Defense Spokesperson's Office)

The Israeli Ministry of Defense (IMoD) launched its latest surveillance satellite onboard the Shavit rocket on 29 March, the organisation announced.

Known as Ofek-13, the satellite utilises the latest synthetic aperture radar (SAR) technology to collect high-resolution spatial intelligence for the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) and its 9900 Intelligence Unit.

According to the announcement, the satellite was launched in central Israel and has begun to transmit data.

Ofek-13 was developed in collaboration with Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI), the IMoD Space and Satellite Administration, the Israeli Air Force, IDF, and the 9900 Intelligence Unit.

IAI is the prime contractor for the programme, having developed the satellite, the ground station monitoring system, and the launcher, while its Systems Missiles and Space Group operates the project alongside the company's MLM division and subsidiary ELTA. In addition, Rafael Advanced Defense Systems and Tomer, a government-owned company, supplied the launch engines.

Avi Berger, head of IMoD's Space and Satellite Administration, said that the satellite will enable the collection of intelligence in all weather conditions, day and night, in turn improving the country's intelligence capabilities. In the coming weeks, various technical tests will be completed and the first images of the satellite will be received, after which it will be handed over to the IDF for operational use.

The satellite follows a series of Ofek systems that have been sent into orbit over the years – the first of which, Ofek-1, was launched in 1988.

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