Saturday, October 06, 2012

IDF shoots down UAV over Negev

From the IDF:
An unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) was identified penetrating Israeli airspace from the west this morning (Saturday, October 6), and was intercepted by the IAF at approximately 10:00 AM.

The aircraft remained under the surveillance of IDF forces on the ground and in the air, including fighter planes. The UAV was downed in the area of the Yatir Forest, in the northern Negev, so as to avoid damage to a civilian area.

IDF Spokesperson Brig. Gen. Yoav (Poly) Mordechai emphasized that this was a full operational success. He noted that the aircraft was identified before entering Israeli airspace and was downed in accordance with a decision of the IDF's top leaders.

Chief of the General Staff Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz was briefed on the incident. IDF soldiers are currently searching the area where the drone was downed, in open areas in the northern Negev, to locate debris and identify the drone.

YNet adds that it seems likely to have come from Hezbollah via the Mediterranean:

After IDF collects remnants of unmanned aircraft shot down over southern forest, security establishment examining possibility it was launched by Hezbollah to photograph Israeli reactor; army fears drones will be used to hit strategic sites

After Israeli fighter jets shot down a drone over the Yatir forest in the south Mount Hebron area on Saturday, the army is trying to figure out what its destination was. One of the possibilities the security establishment is looking into is that the unmanned aircraft, which was apparently Iranian-made, was on its way to test the option of infiltrating the nuclear reactor in Dimona, perhaps even to examine the option of targeting the plant in a future conflict.

A drone such as the one that was downed on Saturday after penetrating Israel's airspace through the Mediterranean Sea could not cause serious damage to the reactor, but such an incident would mark a psychological victory for Lebanese Shiite group Hezbollah, whose leader Hassan Nasrallah recently threatened to attack strategic targets in Israel, including power plants.

Operating a drone by remote control from such a long distance requires advanced capabilities, which Israel was not aware Hezbollah had acquired. By examining the drone's parts, the army hopes to find out whether the drone was controlled from a command center in Lebanon or was directed by a space-based satellite navigation system (GPS) according to predetermined coordinates. If that was the case, the unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) may have directed itself automatically and was supposed to return to its base or self-destruct over the sea.