Palmachim / Palmikhim / Yavne
A missile test range and space launch facility is located near the Palmachim [Palmikim] Air Force Base on the coast of Israel south of Tel Aviv and north north-east of Ashdod. The facility is also sometimes referred to as Yavne [31.820N 34.713E], which is the urban area near the Soreq nuclear research center. The area is largely covered by sand dunes. Palmachim Air Force Base was built by the IDF/AF in the 1970s, originally as a test site for missiles conducted by 151 Squadron. Also used as a helicopter base, the single runway is 2,000 meters long. Palmachim is the main IAF/DF helicopter base, and squadrons based at this large station include 124 (UH-60A, S-70A), 160 and 161 (AH-1E/F), and 200 (UAV's). The Palmachim area is used as an artillery range by the Israeli Defense Forces, from the shoreline to a distance of 5 km offshore.
In 1949, the Takam Movement established Kibbutz Palmachim on the coastal lands of the village of Al-Nabi Rubin, located on the south bank of the Rubin River, 3 km away from the Mediterranean. The shrine of al-Nabi Rubin stands amid shrubs and other wild vegetation. The Beit Miriam / Kibbutz Palmachim Archeological Museum, founded in 1969 in memory of a member of Kibbutz Palmachim, houses findings from excavations on the kibbutz and in the eastern Mediterranean Basin. The beautiful beaches of Palmachim are a popular public recreation area for swimming and sunbathing, less than an hour (door to door) drive from Tel-Aviv. Palmachim is also the location of a Kibbutz. The "commercial" beach is separate from the kibbutz private beach.
Reportedly as of the late 1990s satellite imagery of the area shows an airfield with one runway and seven large hangars inside the security perimeter, which also includes other manufacturing facilities. The missile assembly building and the launch site are at the south end of the facility. The facilities are reportedly visible from the coast road.
Space launch activities began with the launch of the Ofeq 1 satellite on 19 September 1988. Launches are restricted to retrograde orbits due to range safety restrictions, which mandate firing westward across the Mediterranean Sea, rather than eastward over neighboring Arab countries. As a result, Israel has sought permission to fly from US facilities to launch the vehicles on commerical missions. On 15 September 1994 an unacknowledged attempt to launch an Ofek satellite reportedly ended in failure. On 22 January 1998, Israel attempted to launch the Ofek-4 satellite on a Shavit booster from Palmachim. The $50 million imagery intelligence satellite was to replace Ofek-3, which was launched in 1995. While the first stage of the rocket performed nominally, problems caused the flight to be destroyed two minutes into flight.
The US-funded Isaeli Arrow anti-ballistic missile interceptor is tested from Palmachim, which is also the site of the launch of target missiles for these test. The Citron Tree fire-control system and the Green Pine radar, which track the targets, are probably co-located at Palmachim for these tests.
Shaldag (Unit 5101) is an Israeli special operations unit based at Palmachim. It engages in missions throughout the Middle East involving ground-based laser designation for air-to-ground laser-guided munitions. Created in 1974, in recent years the unit has expanded responsibilities to emerge as an engagement unit in counter terrorism and hostage rescue team activities.
|Imagery of the Hatzor Airfield
|Click on the small image to view a larger version|
|October 12 1969|
|August 6 1970|
|September 29 1971|
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