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Israel’s IAI In Running To Supply Poland With Two Reconnaissance Satellites

An Israeli Ofek-7 reconnaissance satellite launched by an Israeli Shavit space launch vehicle from Palmachim Air Base, Israel, in 2007. Photograph courtesy of Wikipedia.

Reports are emerging that Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) are being considered by the Polish Ministry of Defence to supply the Central European country with two high-resolution reconnaissance satellites valued at U.S.$2 billion.

The Polish defence minister, Antoni Macierewicz, has sent a delegation of acquisition officials to IAI in Tel Aviv to negotiate a deal with the Israeli company for the satellites.

If correct, this news will come as disappointment to France’s Airbus Defence and Space and U.S. company Ball Aerospace. Both companies are believed to have been heavily lobbying the Polish government to sell their respective capabilities.

Airbus have been pushing a military version of their Pléiades high-resolution Earth observation satellite. The Pléiades satellite design is being used in the manufacture of the Falcon Eye reconnaissance satellite system for the United Arab Emirates, and is also thought to have been sold to Morocco and is on offer to Saudi Arabia.

Ball Aerospace, headquartered in Boulder, Colorado, is believed to be promoting their Worldview high-resolution Earth observation satellite, similar to the satellites used by commercial satellite imagery company DigitalGlobe.

IAI manufactures the classified Ofek military reconnaissance satellite systems for the Israeli Ministry of Defence, and a commercial version of Ofek called Earth Resources Observation System (EROS) currently used by Israeli satellite imagery company ImageSat International. EROS-B, currently operated by ImageSat International, has a panchromatic resolution of 0.70 metres. It is believed that the Ofek satellites have greater resolutions than their commercial counterparts.

At the time of reporting it is not clear whether IAI is looking to sell Poland a version of its Ofek satellites (it is widely believed that India and Singapore have access to Ofek, so a foreign operator of Ofek would not necessarily be a dramatic development) or the EROS commercial version.

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