Israel: Israel’s observational satellites take up a large chunk of the multi-year Halamish plan that the Army is preparing, which is due to come before the cabinet for approval, Haaretz Daily reported. The plan outlines Israel’s current strategic standing in the Middle East amid the ongoing upheaval in the region and particularly the regime change in Egypt and the impact it will have on the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) and its buildup.
As an integrated part of the plan, satellites including the Ofek 5, 7 and 9 – the latest of which was launched in June – provide up-to-date images to the Intelligence Corps of the IDF. The images are used to help Israel keep an eye on sensitive “areas of interest” where planes, whether manned or unmanned, would not be able to go, said the lieutenant colonel who heads the air force’s satellite and space unit.
IAF officials are wary of going into too much depth when it comes to describing the abilities of Israeli satellites, but the lieutenant colonel described them as “creating photographic opportunities that enable us to get up-to-date information, to the point of providing a warning on leading operational needs.”
But the satellites have their limitations. Of Israel’s six satellites, only one – the high-resolution TecSar, which features radar imaging – is capable of transmitting images at night and in poor weather conditions, and the TecSar has a view of those “areas of interest” only once every 90 minutes. In addition, its elliptical orbit means that it goes dark for two weeks of every two months or so.
The air force would like to have enough satellites to keep the Middle East covered well enough that there would be no spot where Israel cannot see what’s going on once every 15 minutes.
Unlike the Ofek series satellites, TecSar – along with Eros A and Eros B, which are privately owned by a subsidiary of Israel Aircraft Industries – were launched abroad, from either Russia or India.
Source: Haaretz Daily