A military research analyst told The Jerusalem Post that Iran may have staged what it claimed was the downing of an Israeli drone in its airspace a week ago.
Patrick Megahan, a research analyst focusing on military affairs who manages the militaryedge.org website at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, told the Post that it is difficult to say with certainty based on pictures alone that Iran staged the downing of what it said was an Israeli drone, but there are some key clues.
“First, the remnants of the aircraft do not match those of any known Israeli UA V,” said Megahan, noting that “Iran is saying it’s a Hermes class drone, but of the two Hermes models which are most similar to what appears in the video, the Hermes 180 and 450, there are still a number of minor design features which do not match.”
“There is a clear hole at the tip of the nose” on the drone that Iran claimed it shot down, but “the Hermes 450 has a smooth nose with some kind of rectangular openings on the top and bottom, which are absent on this drone,” asserted Megahan.
“While the Hermes 180 does have a point that extends from the tip which would create that hole, there appears to be differences in how the body is assembled,” he said.
“The crashed drone’s nose appears to be cleanly split in two, indicating the fuselage is made of two halves fused together. While if you look at both the Hermes 180 and 450, you can see that on top there is a removable rectangular opening to access the inner workings of the drone.”
In fact, the aircraft that Iran claims to have shot down “actually resembles an Iranian developed Shahed 129 drone more than any known Israeli one,” added Megahan.
Second, the military research analyst points out that Iran’s claim that the drone was on its way to the Natanz uranium enrichment plant is dubious, since it is almost 1,000 miles from Israel and well out of the range of both the Hermes 180 and 450.
“There is speculation that it could be a an Azeri owned Hermes drone, but again, Natanz is too far from Azerbaijan for those models to reach, loiter over top to collect intelligence, and then return,” he said.
Third, Megahan says that Israel has larger, more capable drones like the Heron TP, which “would be better suited for this type of operation.”
“Fourth, Iran has a record of wild claims. While Iran does appear to have seized crashed American drones like RQ-170, other achievements by Iran’s military are far-fetched.”
“Also, in this instance, members of the IRGC are saying the downed drone has a range of 800 km and is radar evading, a capability that neither Hermes drone is capable of,” he noted.