Israeli Air Force Releases Videos Of Tonight’s Interception of Iranian Drones And Missiles

Israeli intercept
A screencapture showing one of the targets being intercepted tonight by Israeli jets. (Photo: IDF)

The footage shows drones and cruise missiles being tracked by targeting pods before being hit by air-to-air missiles.

Last night, the Israeli air defenses were put to the test when Iran launched a massive retaliatory drone and missile attack against Israel, nearly two weeks after an Israeli attack on the Iranian consulate in Syria killed seven IRGC members. Both surface-to-air air defenses and fighter aircraft were employed, supported by US, UK and Jordanian assets, to stop the attacks before they could strike their targets.

Today, the Israel Defense Forces released video footage of Israeli Air Force fighter jets shooting down the Iranian drones and missiles before they could reach Israeli soil. The IDF said all the drones and cruise missiles were downed outside of the country’s airspace with a 99% interception rate.

The footage, which appears coming from targeting pods installed on the aircraft, show the targets being tracked before being hit by air-to-air missiles. From the video it’s not possible to determine which munitions were employed, although photos show Israeli fighters preparing to intercept the attacks with a mix of radar-guided and IR-guided missiles.

While not all targets can be clearly seen in the video, we can clearly recognize some Shahed 136 drones and Paveh cruise missiles. Shahed drones were also visible in some of the videos surfaced online as they flew at low altitude over Iraq, headed for Israel.

The reaction to the attack

“True Promise”, as the Iranian operation has been dubbed, consisted of hundreds of kamikaze drones, ballistic missiles and cruise missiles launched from Iran and its proxies towards Israel. In total, the IDF said 170 drones, 120 ballistic missiles and 30 cruise missiles were launched. These were countered with a 99% interception rate, with only few ballistic missiles entering Israeli territory and hitting Nevatim airbase, causing only slight damage.

These were countered with a 99% interception rate, with only few ballistic missiles entering Israeli territory and hitting Nevatim airbase, causing only slight damage.

The Israeli Air Force released photos and videos of its fighter jets returning after successfully intercepting targets. F-15Is were seen with a mixed loadout which included AIM-7 Sparrow semi-active radar homing missiles and Python 5 and AIM-9L Sidewinder IR-guided missiles.

F-35s also took part in the defense, with videos showing that at least some of them might have flown in full stealth mode without radar reflectors, while some others flew with external pylons. No mention has been made about the employment of the F-16.

Ground-based air defenses were mainly used to intercept ballistic missiles, which were launched in at least two different waves throughout the night. Videos surfaced online also show Arrow missiles during exoatmospheric intercepts against Iranian ballistic missiles.

Israeli media, citing Israel’s economic advisor to the former Chief of Staff, Brigadier General Ram Aminach, said that tonight defense, accounting munitions, fuel and all systems used, might have costed in the order of 4-5 billion shekels, or over one billion dollars. Estimates say that Iran might have spent only 10% of that to launch the attack.

The weapons used by Iran

While it is not possible to make an accurate list of all weapons employed by Iran during tonight’s attack, the video of the intercepts released by the IAF and the posts about the debris surfaced online allow us to at least determine some of the weapons involved.

The video of the intercepts clearly shows the unmistakable shape of Shahed 136 drones or similar variants. The Shahed-136 is a flying wing with tip fence-type winglets, with a length of about 2.5 meters and a wingspan of 3.5 meters. The munition is said to weigh around 200 kg and also it seems to be propelled by a piston engine and a rocket booster used for the launch, with a speed of about 185 km/h.

The munition was first publicly shown in 2021 in the Great Prophet 17 exercise, when the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps launched 10 Shahed-136 munitions from a truck-mounted containerized system. The munition has already seen action in the Middle East, notably against the tanker M/V Mercer Street in 2021 and the Saudi Aramco oil processing plant in 2019, as is being actively used by Russian forces in Ukraine since 2022.

The IDF video also show some cruise missiles, whose shape resembles the one of the Soumar cruise missile family. Considering the range required, the most likely candidate is the Paveh / Project 351 cruise missile, which is reported to have a range of 1,650 km. The missile, developed by the IRGC and also delivered to Yemeni Houthis and Iraqi PMF proxies, was first unveiled last year.

The Paveh land attack cruise missile is propelled by a small turbojet engine installed on top of its tail section. Not much is known about the performance and warhead, while it is reported that the guidance system is based on a GPS/GNSS guidance.

Images of debris being found in the area allowed also to identify one of the ballistic missiles employed last night as the Emad. Emad is an Iranian designed intermediate range ballistic missile (IRBM), a variant of the Shahab-3 that was developed from the North Korean no Dong 1 missile. Propelled by a liquid fuel engine, Emad can carry a 750 kg warhead with a 1,700 km range and 500 m accuracy (although Iranian sources say 50).

Emad is reported to have entered service in 2015, with Iran saying that the missile can be controlled and guided until it hits its target by using a maneuverable reentry vehicle. In 2021 Iran claimed it has employed an anti-ship variant of Emad during the Great Prophet exercises, launching them in the direction of a U.S. Navy aircraft carrier.

About Stefano D'Urso
Stefano D'Urso is a freelance journalist and contributor to TheAviationist based in Lecce, Italy. A graduate in Industral Engineering he's also studying to achieve a Master Degree in Aerospace Engineering. Electronic Warfare, Loitering Munitions and OSINT techniques applied to the world of military operations and current conflicts are among his areas of expertise.