BEIRUT

Middle East

New Israeli spy satellite enters orbit

  • Two Israeli Air Force pilots watch the C-130J Super Hercules military aircraft, top, as it lands during an unveiling ceremony upon its arrival in Nevatim Air Force base near Beersheba , Southern Israel, Wednesday, April 9, 2014. The U.S. made Lockheed-Martin C-130 line of transport aircraft will join the Israel Air Force’s fleet. (AP Photo/Ariel Schalit)

JERUSALEM: A new Israeli spy satellite entered orbit early Thursday, the defence ministry said, boosting the Jewish state's ability to monitor arch-foe Iran.

The observation remote-sensing Ofek 10 satellite, launched into space on a Shavit rocket late Wednesday, outdoes earlier models with its ability to "skip" from one target to another rather than simply "sweep" areas, ministry officials told reporters.

Defence Minister Moshe Yaalon noted Ofek 10 would "enable the security establishment to better deal with threats near and far, at all hours of the day and in any weather."

Israel, the region's sole if undeclared nuclear power, suspects Iran is covertly pursuing a nuclear weapons capability alongside its civilian programme, charges adamantly denied by Tehran.

Ofek 10 joins a number of spy satellites Israel has been deploying since 1988, with the most recent -- Ofek 9 -- launched into space in 2010.

 
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