debkafile Reports: Israel’s new Ofeq-7 satellite beams its first images to base Thursday

With its successful launch Monday, Israel has acquired an essential intelligence asset for any war contingency.
Ofeq-7 was launched westward over the Mediterranean by the home-made Shavit three-stage solid fuel vehicle from the Palmachim aerospace base at 02:15 IT, June 11. The first images should be received by Tuesday night.
debkafile‘s military sources report that the launching was part of a seven-day US-Israeli air exercise taking place this week in the Negev which, though presented officially as a routine practice, reflects wide expectations of a Middle East war this summer.
Israel thus launched the 300 kg Ofeq-7 in mock war conditions, displaying a cutting-edge capability reserved to the US and Russia.
Its successful deployment in low Earth orbit was anxiously awaited as strategically essential after the failure of the Ofeq-6 test last September. Joining the ageing, five-year old Ofeq-5, the new platform fills the gap in the coverage of distant high-priority areas in the Middle East including Iran.
debkafile‘s military sources add: The military importance of the Shavit’s successful performance as a deterrent to Iran’s missile threats cannot be overstated. It means that Israeli rockets can be relied on to reach any part of Iran.
Earlier this year, as Syria and Iran built up their missile arsenals, Israel quietly accelerated its military space program with three successful launches in February and March under a news blackout. Russia too reacted by placing a new Cosmos spy satellite in an orbit for keeping a close watch on the Middle East including Israel, Iran and the Gulf.
debkafile reports that work is advanced at Israel’s Air Industry on the TechSAR radar-operated all-weather platform, Ofeq-8 and a new type of satellite called only Ofeq-Next. Israeli defense officials are in talks with US Spacecom for supplementing the Amos-4 communications satellite still to be launched with military capabilities.

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