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Israel Downs UAV With Dogfighting Missiles

Oct. 7, 2012 - 12:35PM   |  
By BARBARA OPALL-ROME   |   Comments
Israel Downs UAV
Israel Downs UAV: Newly released video showing the drone the Israel Air Force said it shot down on Saturday.
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An Israeli army helicopter searches Sept. 5 for the remains of an unarmed and unidentified drone in the northern Negev, which the Israeli air force shot it down after entering the country's airspace from the Mediterranean Sea. / David Buimovitch / AFP via Getty Images


TEL AVIV — A pair of Israel Air Force F-16Is used locally-produced Python missiles to shoot an apparently Iranian-made unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) out of the sky following a nearly 20-minute incursion into Israeli air space on Oct. 6.

Operational details of the Oct. 6 aerial intrusion are still under investigation. Preliminary findings indicate that the air vehicle was unarmed, but equipped with a photographic payload. It approached Israeli airspace from the Mediterranean Sea north of the Gaza Strip and was flying eastward before the order was given to shoot it down in the hills south of Hebron.

Brig. Gen. Yoav “Poli” Mordechai, Israel’s military spokesman, said the UAV was detected well before it penetrated Israeli airspace and could have been targeted at any given time during its flight path. Commanders opted to wait until it reached an unpopulated area before issuing the order to shoot, he said.

“The air vehicle was under surveillance by air and ground sensors during its entire flight path ... This was an operational success,” Mordechai said.

Mordechai said investigators have not yet concluded which specific type of UAV was destroyed, from where, precisely, it was launched, and who was responsible. Nevertheless, military sources here suspected the UAV was part of the increasingly sophisticated weaponry provided by Iran to militant proxy groups north and south of Israel’s borders.

The Oct. 6 incident was the third time the Israel Air Force (IAF) used air-to-air missiles initially developed for dogfights with enemy fighter planes to address small, asymmetrical UAV threats.

After two embarrassing infiltrations by Iranian Ababil UAVs operated by Hizbollah in the 20 months prior to Israel’s 2006 Lebanon War, the IAF successfully shot down two Ababils during the course of that 34-day war. Remnants of the downed UAVs showed that at least one was equipped with nearly 10-kilograms of explosives.

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