Israel MoD, IAI Transfer Ofek 16 Satellite Operation to IDF 9900 Intelligence Unit

The Israel Ministry of Defense (IMoD) and Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) transferred the operation of the Ofek 16 electro-optical reconnaissance satellite to the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) Intelligence Directorate.

In a small ceremony held in an IAI control station in accordance with COVID-19 restrictions Amnon Harrari, the Head of the Space and Satellite Administration in IMoD; Boaz Levy, IAI EVP and General Manager of the Systems, Missiles and Space Group; and Shlomi Sudri, GM of IAI Space Division handed the ‘keys’ of the satellite to the IDF’s 9900 Intelligence Unit.

The satellite’s pre-planned testing process and its preparations for operational use were completed by the engineering teams of the Space Administration in the IMoD Directorate of Defense Research and Development (DDR&D) and IAI three months after the successful launch of the Ofek 16 satellite into space.

Israel is now on the way to declare full operational capability for the satellite.

Ofek 16 is an electro-optical observation satellite with advanced capabilities and is equipped with a high-quality camera developed and manufactured by Elbit Systems. The satellite was successfully launched into space abroad a Shavit launcher from a launch site based in central Israel at 4:00 am on July 6.

Since the launch, the DDR&D, IAI and the IDF’s Intelligence Directorate have conducted a series of pre-planned tests, called In Orbit Testing. During this period, the satellite successfully transmitted a number of images, demonstrating its excellent capabilities.

The Space Administration in IMoD has led the development and production of the satellite and its launcher. IAI is the prime contractor, having assigned the program to its Systems, Missiles and Space Group together with the MLM Division, which is responsible for the development of the launcher. Elbit Systems is responsible for the development and production of the satellite’s advanced camera and payload. The launch engines were developed by Rafael Advanced Defense Systems and Tomer, a government-owned company. Additional companies have participated in the program, including Rokar and Cielo. Lastly, various IDF officials, primarily from the Intelligence Corps and Air Force have also been involved in the satellite development process.

Ofek 16’s development was enabled by the great experience gained by the defense establishment in the production of earlier satellites in the Ofek series, which have been produced and launched since the year 1988.

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