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.


About David Cenciotti 4453 Articles
David Cenciotti is a freelance journalist based in Rome, Italy. He is the Founder and Editor of “The Aviationist”, one of the world’s most famous and read military aviation blogs. Since 1996, he has written for major worldwide magazines, including Air Forces Monthly, Combat Aircraft, and many others, covering aviation, defense, war, industry, intelligence, crime and cyberwar. He has reported from the U.S., Europe, Australia and Syria, and flown several combat planes with different air forces. He is a former 2nd Lt. of the Italian Air Force, a private pilot and a graduate in Computer Engineering. He has written four books.


    • I don’t quite understand your comment – do you think they shot down a passenger plane, or that they actually shot from (as in, fired a missile from) a passenger plane?

      The first option seems unlikely; it would have been all over the news, and the wreckage is far too small (and indeed seems to match the unnamed drone, as shown in the article). Obviously the second option is even more rediculous.

    • looks like no longer American-Israeli drone or planes are safe in Iran sky!!
      I guess even in Palestine and Lebanon.

  1. it does seem like it could have been moved, there are no scorch marks on the ground from any fire, and it was obviously on fire. i dont deny they shot it down or made it crash somehow, just, as is said in the article, that it was probably downed elsewhere and moved to a nuclear facility for propaganda/image purposes. but i dont know of course, just guessing

  2. The report you link to says 1600 km with refiling once.
    And why would Iran shoot down the drone, and then move it? Under what circumstance can that be considered the more likely scenario?
    The drone was probably just flying extremely close to ground level until it reached Natanz, or else was actually launched inside Iran by foreign agents.

    • The drone weights almost a ton and it was shot down by a missile at almost 10000 ft(minimum height). Therefore, the falling part from that height with such a size ( as we see in the images), must make a significant penetration mark into the ground. However, in the released images by Iranian news agency, there is no sign of penetration into the ground. I am not denying that they have shot down the drone. But in according to the images that they have released, it seems that, at least they have moved the parts from their original location. maybe they have just gathered the parts close to each other to convince the viewer that the drone was Hermes a Israeli made drone.

    • “Under what circumstance can that be considered the more likely scenario?”

      Under the circumstance that a ton of burnt wreckage is neatly stacked in a little pile where there obviously hasn’t been a fire.

      • Well, duh, of course they would have gathered up all the wreckage at some point, at which point they would have taken a picture and released it to the media. Let me repeat my question for the slower witted amongst us: is why they hell would have shot down at the northern border, trucked it down to Natanz dumped it back down on the ground and then sanpped a picture? I mean even if you want to assume the worst oreintalist tropes about those deviously dishonest eye-ranians and try to hallucinate ‘that weal twuth’ about what really happened based on that basis why not make the unsubstantiated claim that the drown was probably shot down in Tabriz and that’s where the picture was taken? What kind of dilema does that extra layer of prananoid fantasy/’expert analysis’ solve?

        • Why lie about building a stealth aircraft? Why photoshop additional rocket plumes into official photos? Why use stock photos of German and Japanese UAVs that you don’t have and claim that they are homebuilt Iranian drones?

          People lie because they think it is to their advantage and the Iranian government does it like it’s an Olympic sport.

          The reason to claim that they shot down a drone over Natanz is so they can beef up security, make life difficult for any inspectors and say that their hand was forced.

          • The big problem with assuming everyone else is as dumb as you yourself are is that you end up with exactly such a web of half baked unexqmined beliefs, and your basic literacy levels contimuosly deteriorate.

            I’ll ask the question again: assuming you do actually believe all of that nonsense you just wrote, why would you assert that the wreckage was actually ‘moved closer to Natanz’ where the picture was taken, rather than ‘they’re lying, the picture was taken in Tabriz’. I’m not trying to disabuse you of your assumptions, I’m trying to step inside your little buble and understand the twisted threads of your your thought process, assuming , of course, there are any.

  3. yankees think that everybody is a big liar like their gov. I trust in the iranian government version. This article must be in godlikeproductions.

  4. It was launched from Saudi Arabia, as the deputy of the foreign minister was sent to there at the same day. Its rout was from the south West of Iran. The Iranian authorities intentionally let it move inside Iran to find out its mission and finally shot it down en route to Natanz. It is obviously clear from the wrecage photo that the burnt pieces have been gathered to have a concise photo, no problem, no argument.

Comments are closed.