Category Archives: Drones

Another Israeli drone reportedly crashed. In Iraq.

An Israeli unmanned aerial vehicle has just crashed in the vicinity of Baghdad Airport.

According to the FARS News Agency, an Israeli Hermes drone crashed near Baghdad airport on Aug. 27.

It is still not clear whether the UAV was shot down or crashed (for unknown reasons) but, if confirmed, the loss would be the second in less than three days, after another drone, yet to be identified, was allegedly shot down on its way to Natanz nuclear enrichment facility, in the Central parts of Iran.

Even if the FNA has published the image on a Hermes 900 UAV (a High Altitude Long Endurance UAV – with capabilities superior to those of the Hermes 450 – that has had its baptmism of fire during Operation Protective Edge in Gaza) the model involved in the incident is still unknown.

Image credit: Elbit

 

What’s wrong with the story of Iran shooting down an Israeli stealth drone near Natanz nuclear facility

Few days ago Iran reportedly shot down an Israeli “stealth” drone near one of its nuclear enrichment facilities. But there are several weird things in Tehran authorities report of the shooting down.

On Aug. 24, several Iranian media outlets reported the news of an Israeli drone shot down near Natanz nuclear enrichment facility in central Iran.

According to FARS, the Revolutionary Guards Public (IRGC) Relations Department said that the drone was a stealth, radar-evading  model targeted by a surface-to-air missile. Then, on Aug. 25, Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) Aerospace Force Brigadier General Amir Ali Hajizadeh said that “The downed spy drone is Hermes and made in Israel.”

israel drone wreck 2

Even if the news that an Israeli drone was operating inside Iranian airspace is not a big surprise, what makes IRGC claims a bit weird is the fact that Hermes drones are not stealth and their operational range is known to be much lower than the 800 kilometers claimed by Hajizadeh (who added that the unmanned aircraft is capable of flying 1,600 kilometers without refueling). And, above all, the shape of the aircraft does not resemble that of a Hermes 180 or 450.

israel drone wreck

Indeed, the drone is identical to a mysterious drone shot down in 2011 by Armenian forces in the disputed territory of Nagorno Karabakh. At that time Azerbaijan denied the unmanned aircraft belonged to Baku. Then a drone of the same type, most probably made in Israel (with inputs from both the Hermes 180 and 450) was displayed during an Armenian parade as the following image shows.

Azeri drone

Interestingly, the “Azeri” drone showcased in the parade (nose section has been highlighted to help identifying it in the images of wreckage) didn’t carry any national flag/roundel, unlike the other models operated by the Azerbaijani forces.

We don’t know anything about this somehow mysterious drone but its range is unlikely to make a round trip to Natanz possible from both Azerbaijan and northern Iraq (someone suggested this could be the launch area). Actually, the size of the drone is quite small, much smaller than a Hermes 450, meaning that it’s most probably a tactical, short-medium range UAV.

Indeed, most recent reports said that the aircraft was shot down “on the way” to Natanz. So, it seems more likely that the drone, made-in-Israel (although it’s not confirmed) and possibly launched from Azerbaijan was shot down/crashed somewhere closer to the border and then moved near Natanz.

H/T to Giuliano Ranieri and Farzam Mir for providing additional details to this report.

Image credit: Sephanews, Mashreghnews.

 

[Video] U.S. Navy X-47B drone and F/A-18 Hornet conduct historic combined manned, unmanned carrier ops

With a series of tests conducted aboard USS Theodore Roosevelt the Navy’s unmanned X-47B drone demonstrated its ability to operated safely and seamlessly with manned aircraft.

On Aug. 17, the U.S. Navy successfully tested its X-47B UCAS (Unmmaned Combat Air System) alongside an F/A-18F Hornet in a flight deck working environment.

The unmanned aircraft (destined to become USN’s first “killer drone”) completed a series of tests, which included a catapult launch and arrested landing, which demonstrated its ability to operate safely and seamlessly with manned aircraft.

After hitting some important milestones operating as a singleton, the next step was to occupy the carrier pattern with the manned aircraft in order to test whether the UCAS is able to land and vacate the landing area within the time lines that are required for blue water ops aboard a U.S. flattop.

According to the U.S. Navy:

“The first series of manned/unmanned operations began this morning [Aug. 17] when the ship launched an F/A-18 and an X-47B. After an eight-minute flight, the X-47B executed an arrested landing, folded its wings and taxied out of the landing area. The deck-based operator used newly developed deck handling control to manually move the aircraft out of the way of other aircraft, allowing the F/A-18 to touch down close behind the X-47B’s recovery.

This cooperative launch and recovery sequence will be repeated multiple times over the course of the planned test periods. The X-47B performed multiple arrested landings, catapults, flight deck taxiing and deck refueling operations.”

Future plans include nighttime taxiing and flying.

 

Image and Video credit: U.S. Navy

Israeli Hermes drone over Gaza with dorsal satellite antenna

A new image coming from Gaza shows an Israeli Hermes UAV (Unmanned Aerial Vehicle) carrying two (still unknown) pods and dorsal antenna.

Taken over Gaza City on Aug. 3 by AP’s Dusan Vranic, the photo is not only extremely beautiful because of large moon (magnified by the zoom lens) in the background: it is the first to date showing a modified Israeli Hermes 450 UAV (Unmanned Aerial Vehicle) carrying the two “new” underwing pods (possibly containing SIGINT sensors or guns) with a dorsal satellite antenna.

The Israeli source who pointed us to the image said the dorsal antenna is retractable, but we are not sure it can be extended; it could be a fixed satellite antenna used for ISTAR, SIGINT, communications relay.

Image credit: AP/Dusan Vranic

 

Ukrainian Soviet-era mini-space shuttle shaped drone captured by pro-Russia separatists

An interesting reconnaissance drone was captured, almost intact, by the pro-Russia separatists in Ukraine.

Along with the Su-25, Su-27 and Mil Mi-24, the Ukrainian Air Force is operating its fleet of recently restored Soviet-era reconnaissance drones.

Among them, at least until Aug. 1, even one Tu-143 Reys, a type of drone developed from Tu-141, that pro-Russia separatists found almost intact in a field.

The Tu-143 is quite similar to the Tu-141, even though substantially smaller. It has an operative range of about 60 – 70 kilometers and a low-level flight capability.

Tu-143 detail

Image credit: DNR Press via @996al