A new track being flown by Israeli Air Force G550 Oron was noticed on Oct. 15, 2023, as air strikes inside Lebanon were conducted.
On the night of Oct. 15, 2023, a new pattern of the Israel Air Force’s new surveillance platform G550 Nachshon Oron was noticed as the IDF announced that they would begin airstrikes in Lebanon. During the Israeli – Hamas conflict, the G550 Oron was regularly spotted on public aircraft tracking sites such as FR24.com orbiting over Israel and off its coastline providing signals intelligence across the area.
However, on Sunday a different pattern emerged amidst heightened tensions between Israel and Lebanon. Soon after, the Israeli government announced its first successful strike of Hezbollah military infrastructure in Lebanon.
Between Oct. 9 and Oct. 15, the Oron was spotted regularly over the skies of Israel and its coast under the callsign DNMRK or IRON.
A Gulfstream G550 “Nachshon Oron” Signal-Intelligence Aircraft attached to the 122nd “Nachson” Squadron of the Israeli Air Force is also Airborne off the Coast of Central Israel and has been for roughly 4 Hours, she is likely Collecting Intelligence to Aid the Ground Operations… pic.twitter.com/clT6vSjXvs
— Donxlane (@donxlane) October 10, 2023
However, on the evening of Oct. 15, the Oron (under the callsign IRON1) made a departure from its regular ISR orbit and headed north towards the Lebanese coast. This was in lieu of the IDF’s announcement to start striking Hezbollah within the south of Lebanon that same day.
Version 2, including the leg out looking north towards Lebanon. pic.twitter.com/hmFTlx0IUR
— Amelia Smith (@ameliairheart) October 15, 2023
The updated Oron platform is equipped with an active electronically scanned array (AESA) radar, electro-optical and signals intelligence sensors such as a synthetic aperture radar (SAR). The diagram provided by @ameliairheart shows the approximate range of the Oron’s SAR. It can be seen that whilst the platform’s previous tracks would have limited the onboard SAR’s range to focus on Israel, the Gaza Strip and probably parts of Egypt (Sinai) and Jordan, the modified track seen during the IAF’s strike against Hezbollah would have covered the whole of Lebanon as well as a good portion of Syria.
First strike carried out overnight by IAF, bombing Hezbollah compound with GBU-31 JDAM
During the Oron’s flight covering Lebanese territory, the IAF announced that it had successfully struck its first Hezbollah target in Lebanon.
חיל-האוויר תקף תשתיות צבאיות של ארגון הטרור חיזבאללה בלבנון לפני זמן קצר, זאת בתגובה לירי שבוצע אתמול (א׳) לעבר שטח ישראל. pic.twitter.com/Qe1dYx2LFb
— Israeli Air Force (@IAFsite) October 15, 2023
The footage shows what appears to be a twin story compound getting struck by a single GBU-31 JDAM. The IAF have been seen heavily relying on the 2,000-pound GBU-31 JDAM GPS guided bomb as their main ordnance during this campaign. A recent video showing a stockpile of GBU-31s has surfaced showing roughly a hundred of the bombs being taken out of storage and being readied for the aircraft.
בדרך למטוסים pic.twitter.com/G2mQckeZvs
— איתי בלומנטל Itay Blumental (@ItayBlumental) October 12, 2023
G550 Nachshon Oron is a brand new, one-off aircraft in IAF inventory
The G550 Oron in question was registration number 452 (previously N552GD) that was first introduced to the IAF in March 2021. The IAF currently operates a total of six Gulfstream modified SIGINT aircraft under the 122 Nachshon squadron. The squadron operates a single G550 based Nachshon Oron (reg. 452), two G550 based Nachshon Aitam (reg. 537 and 569), and three GV based Nachshon Shavit (reg. 676, 679, and 684). The Oron can be thought of as a modern upgrade of the Aitam, which entered service in the early 2000s.