Analysis: Iran, Hezbollah likely behind UAV trespass

With Iranian funds and technological assistance, Hezbollah has been trying to build up its UAV capabilities.

By
October 7, 2012 00:58
2 minute read.
Heron-1 UAV

Heron-1 UAV_370. (photo credit: Reuters)

Of all the hostile elements seeking to harm Israeli national security, only two have the capability, track record and motivation to send drones into Israeli airspace: Iran and its Shi’ite proxy Hezbollah.

The IDF has refused to comment on where the drone that was intercepted Saturday over southern Israel originated, or who sent it, but several factors point to Tehran and its Lebanese terror organization as prime suspects. Ten days ago Iran showcased a new long-range drone it said could fly to Israel and carry out reconnaissance or bombing missions.

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The drone, called Shahed-129, was proudly unveiled by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps at the end of September.

It reportedly has a range of 2,000 kilometers and was likely presented as part of Iran’s attempt to reply to Israel’s fleet of massive Heron drones. Herons can fly to Iran and carry out a range of missions, and could be deployed in a future strike on Iran’s nuclear sites.

If Tehran wanted to send a drone toward Israel, however, it would not have to launch one from its own territory. It has already set up a military base in southern Lebanon in the form of Hezbollah, a terror entity that has been trying to infiltrate Israeli airspace with its own drones for several years.

With Iranian funds, and likely with Iranian technological assistance, Hezbollah has been trying to build up its UAV capabilities.

The latest reminder of this came in July, when an experimental Hezbollah drone crashed in southern Lebanon.

During the 2006 Second Lebanon War, Israeli F-16 fighters intercepted a Hezbollah drone packed with explosives that was heading toward central Israel. The small, low-flying aircraft was tracked by the air force as soon as it took off from Lebanon.

In September, Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah said his organization could bomb the Dimona nuclear reactor in southern Israel.

And last week The New York Times cited classified Pentagon data as indicating that Iran had practiced bombing runs on Dimona and Haifa.

In light of this background, it seems reasonable to conclude that Iran and Hezbollah are testing out their latest drone capabilities to see how far they can get into Israeli air space and to test Israeli responses.

The latest incident appears to be a brazen message from Tehran and Hezbollah saying that in any future conflict, they will attempt to reach sensitive points deep inside Israel.

Israel will now have to decide how to respond.


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