OFEK 16: A New Spy Satellite Launched Successfully by Israel

The successful launch of Ofek 16 will further enhance Israel’s capabilities and provide it with an additional tool to monitor its many threats across the region


By Arie Egozi

Photo Credit: Ministry of Defence – Israel

A new Israeli spy satellite the Ofek 16 was launched successfully on July 6 from Israeli air force base using a Sahvit launcher. The new very advanced satellite will allow Israel to continue monitoring “areas of interest” like Iran.

“Ofek 16” is an electro-optical reconnaissance satellite with advanced capabilities. During the initial period of operation, the satellite will undergo a series of tests to determine its propriety and performance level.

The Space Administration in the Israel Ministry of Defense has led the development and production of the satellite and the 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. The satellite’s payload was developed by Elbit Systems. The launch engines were developed by Rafael Advanced Systems and Tomer, a government-owned defense company. Additional companies have participated in this program, including Rokar and Cielo.

The first Israeli satellite (Ofek 1), was launched in the year 1988. In the years following this success, the Ministry of Defense has allocated significant budgets in the field of satellite development.

The satellite program significantly enhances the intelligence capabilities of the State of Israel, due to the ground breaking technology and capabilities developed by Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI), and additional partner industries.

The State of Israel was the seventh country in the world to achieve full space capabilities (launching satellites), and today, Israel is one of 13 countries in the world with such capabilities, alongside the United States, Italy, France, Japan, India, the U.K., Ukraine, China, Russia, Iran, North and South Korea.

The investment of the State of Israel in space technology is considered essential and strategic for intelligence purposes. This is a multi-year investment, which requires a multitude of resources, consistency, and professionalism. The goal is to ensure that the Israeli satellite program will remain at the forefront of technological capabilities and will continue to produce advanced satellites, which will maintain Israel’s intelligence and technological superiority.

The investment of the Ministry of Defense in the field of space technology contributes to the advanced capabilities of the State of Israel.  At the same time, it also contributes to the integration of advanced technology and capabilities in civilian industries and the high-tech sector.


 The author is an Israel-based freelance writer. He has served in Israel Defense Forces.

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