Israel launched a spy satellite into orbit early Monday morning, the Israeli Defense Ministry and Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) said in a joint statement.

“The Space Administration in the Directorate of Defense Research and Development … of the Israel Ministry of Defense … and Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) have successfully launched the ‘Ofek 16’ reconnaissance satellite into space,” the statement said. The satellite was launched at 4 a.m. from a site in central Israel, according to the statement.

According to the Defense Ministry, “Ofek 16” is an “optoelectronic reconnaissance satellite with advanced capabilities.”

Engineers will now run a series of tests before the satellite enters full operation, according to the statement.

Israel’s “Ofek 16” satellite. Credit: Israel Aerospace Industries.
Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz called the launch an “extraordinary achievement” for the defense establishment and the country’s defense industries.

“Technological superiority and intelligence capabilities are essential to the security of the State of Israel. The fact that Israel is one of the 13 countries in the world with satellite launching capabilities is not a given, and was made possible by the people who have been investing in these systems and advancing breakthrough capabilities over the years. We will continue to strengthen and maintain Israel’s capabilities on every front, in every place,” said Gantz, according to the statement.

The first satellite in the Ofek series was launched in 1988. Today there are five Ofek-series satellites in orbit, not including the “Ofek 16.”

This is an edited version of an article that first appeared in Israel Hayom.