South Korean defense officials told the Yonhap news agency that Seoul is debating whether or not to lease the Israeli Ofek 11 spy satellite to monitor the actions of the North Korean military. They are debating between using the Israeli satellite or a satellite from another country.
The South Koreans primarily use American satellites, and officials believe that a locally produced satellite will only be ready in 2023. The South Korean official said that “(South Korea) is really far behind on its timetable in its goal of launching five spy satellites between 2021 and 2022. The satellites are part of a plan to create a “firing line” which will be able to deal with the threat of North Korean missiles.”
South Korea is interested in using the Israeli satellite because of the satellite’s somewhat peculiar, circumnavigating orbit. Israel and South Korea are on similar latitudinal lines – between 30 and 40 degrees north of the equator.
Additionally, the United States announced that it detected a ballistic missile launch from North Korea in the early morning hours of Thursday morning. South Korean sources reported that the launch failed. The North Korean Air Defense and Combat Command reported that the missile was a mid-range ballistic missile which doesn’t have the range to threaten the United States.
The Ofek 11 satellite was launched from the Palmachim Air Base in central Israel in September, and has better spying capabilities than its predecessors.
Every new spy satellite increases Israel’s abilities to monitor areas of interest to Israel’s intelligence and national security both near and far. The this increase in both surveillance and picture quality, and in terms of both its optic and radar sensors, the satellite can see objects both during the day and at night, and even in poor weather conditions.
The Ofek 11 is able to follow objectives and targets with higher efficiency and accuracy in places which previous spy satellites had more difficulty doing so.
For example, Israel can now cover more areas of the world or have more passes over a target area to get higher quality information. The more spy satellites Israel space enables a target to be photographed at different angles, thus painting a higher quality intelligence picture. It also increases Israel’s deterrence factor, and the country’s intelligence collecting abilities.