Iranian drones: Changing the Ukraine war and Israel implications - opinion

The Iranian drones Russia purchased to use in Ukraine have long been in the hands of Hezbollah and the pro-Iranian Shi’ite militias in Syria, Iraq and Yemen.

 FIREFIGHTERS WORK to put out a fire at energy infrastructure facilities damaged by a Russian drone strike in the Cherkasy region, Ukraine, last week. (photo credit: State Emergency Service of Ukraine/Reuters)
FIREFIGHTERS WORK to put out a fire at energy infrastructure facilities damaged by a Russian drone strike in the Cherkasy region, Ukraine, last week.
(photo credit: State Emergency Service of Ukraine/Reuters)

The strategy of the war that the Russians are waging against Ukraine will be used by the Iranians in their fight against Israel and it will certainly increase in intensity by many times. Ukraine is 27 times bigger than Israel. It has huge spaces, with thousands of cities, towns and villages spread throughout the country.

On the other hand, in tiny Israel, more than 70% of its population is concentrated in 20% of its territory, especially in the greater metropolitan Tel Aviv area. This area is one of the densest populated places in the world and is the beating heart of the country without which Israel has no life.

In the next multi-arena war, this area will be a tiny, main and concentrated target that will be attacked daily by thousands of missiles and rockets, and hundreds of Iranian drones, and the results of these attacks could be hundreds of sites of destruction every day.

Recently, the Russians went from a war to occupy the territory of Ukraine to a war against the population of Ukraine in order to collapse their spirit and resistance.

Putin’s new plans are to make the lives of tens of millions of Ukrainian citizens miserable, to cause them to freeze in the harsh winter. According to President Volodymyr Zelensky, a third of Ukraine’s energy infrastructure has already been destroyed. Electricity and water supplies have been cut off in more than a thousand cities and towns.

 A view of drones during a military exercise in an undisclosed location in Iran, in this handout image obtained on August 24, 2022 (credit: IRANIAN ARMY/WANA (WEST ASIA NEWS AGENCY)/HANDOUT VIA REUTERS) A view of drones during a military exercise in an undisclosed location in Iran, in this handout image obtained on August 24, 2022 (credit: IRANIAN ARMY/WANA (WEST ASIA NEWS AGENCY)/HANDOUT VIA REUTERS)

Russia is using Iranian drones that are launched from a range of 1,000 km. and each drone carries a payload of 40 kg. of explosives. Their accuracy is impressive, within 10 m. of a target. The Russians are using Iranian drones, ballistic missiles and cruise missiles to destroy power stations, and water and gas supplies. They are damaging fuel reserves, food warehouses and government institutions, and their plan is to destroy dams so that the water stored in them will flood Ukrainian cities and villages.

Iran helping Russia in Ukraine can lead to Russia letting Iran attack Israel

We must remember that the Iranians helping the Russians in their fight against Ukraine can lead the Russians to allow the Iranians to act against Israel through the Golan Heights. We also need to understand that Iranian drones of the type that Russia purchased from Iran have long been in the hands of Hezbollah and the pro-Iranian Shi’ite militias in Syria, Iraq and Yemen. The range of Iranian drones reaches 1,000 km. and they also have drones with a range of 2,000 km.

In the war on Ukraine, these suicide drones are a game-changer and have changed the direction of the war in Russia’s favor after its army suffered severe defeats during the recent months of fighting.

Therefore, Israel needs to do more than pay attention, it needs to think about how to win a war against such a threat.

The challenges of facing and defeating drone attacks are many.

Drones of this type are very simple in terms of their structure, so they are very cheap in terms of their production and procurement costs. According to reports, their procurement cost amounts to only about $20,000 (NIS 71,000) per unit.

The production capacity of the Iranian drone industry is many thousands per year. In fact, the purchase price of one F-35 fighter jet can buy about 4,000 drones.

WITH THOUSANDS of drones, it is possible simultaneously and over time to attack with dozens of drones per day so an air defense system has difficulty locating and intercepting them.

The weight of the warhead they carry is about 40 kg. and an accurate hit with such a payload will certainly cause heavy damage and casualties. The drones are precise, guided by GPS, and their level of accuracy is about 10 m.

Once they are launched, the drones have no contact with the launchers and their flight to the destination cannot be disrupted. The drones fly at a low altitude, day or night, and are difficult to locate.

The drones are launched singly or in bundles from trucks. It is difficult to locate the mobile launchers ahead of time that move and hide after launches.

Most worryingly, all of the features of drones of this type can be improved very quickly and we have no doubt that this will be the case. According to reports, a similar drone carrying a payload of 200 kg. is expected to come into use soon. There are also stealth drones that are very difficult to locate and more in various stages of production.

This is just part of the threat and dangers to Israel. It is clear that Hezbollah, our enemy from the north, is already armed with hundreds of drones. Drones have already been used against ​​the Karish gas field and they will certainly be used against us in a future war. In Gaza Strip, too, they are working on the development and production of drones, all under Iranian supervision.

Israel needs to respond to this threat by developing and arming itself with more effective means of defense than its current defenses. We need powerful laser weapons, which will be able to intercept any aerial object at long range. We must speed up their development or purchase from the United States.

Israel requires anti-aircraft rapid-firing weapons, which are radar and computer controlled, whose operation requires very limited manpower. This has already been developed and so far, proven to be very effective in perimeter defenses of up to 4 km. away.

Unfortunately, we are very much behind in this war to come. Iranian drone technology is gaining a lot of knowledge and experience in Ukraine. The tactics that could bring Ukraine to its knees could be introduced into our borders in a future war.

Israel also needs to learn lessons from the Iranian-Russian drone war and develop an answer quickly and effectively to defeat this threat.

This will not be like the countless other operations Israel has faced in recent years. This threat has the capacity to deal Israel a very heavy blow. We can no longer think in terms of fighting to a stalemate while leaving future threats on the table. Israel must win this war conclusively, convincing its enemies that they have lost and lose their will to continue fighting or live under the shadow of a protracted drone war that will drain Israel militarily and economically.

The writer, a reserve IDF general, is a member of the Israel Victory Project. He was commander of the Southern Front and of military colleges, as well as serving as an IDF ombudsman. He is a recipient of the Medal of Valor for his service during the Yom Kippur War.