Israel has launched a new spy satellite that it said would provide high-quality surveillance for its military intelligence. 

In a statement on Monday, Israel’s Ministry of Defence and Israel Aerospace Industries said “Ofek 16” was shot into space at 4am local time [01:00 GMT]. 

The “electro-optical reconnaissance satellite with advanced capabilities … will undergo a series of tests,” it added. 

The first images are expected in about a week. 

There were no further details on the satellite’s mission, but Israeli public radio said it would be used to monitor the nuclear activities of regional rival Iran. Tehran denies its nuclear programme has any military dimension. 

Minister of Defence and Alternate Prime Minister Benny Gantz said intelligence capabilities are “essential” to Israel’s security.

“We will continue to strengthen and maintain Israel’s capabilities on every front, in every place.”

State-owned Israel Aerospace Industries was the main contractor for the project and the satellite’s payload was developed by defence firm Elbit Systems. 

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