Category Archives: Pillars of Defense

F-15 fuel tank washes ashore in the southern Gaza Strip: Hamas claims it is from downed Israeli plane

On Nov. 26, a heavily damaged aircraft fuel tank washed ashore near Rafah, in the southern Gaza Strip.

Hamas media outlets claim the part comes from an Israeli Air Force plane shot down by militants during operation Pillars of Defense, even if there are few details that could corroborate the allegation.

Image credit: Getty

Surely, the fuel tank looks similar to the characteristic F-15’s auxiliary fuel tanks, hence it might have been jettisoned by one of the planes involved in the 8-day offensive in Gaza.

Fuel tanks are jettisoned by combat planes to reduce weight and drag. Aircraft escaping a heavily defended area or about to engage enemy planes may decide to drop their auxiliary fuel tanks to improve speed and maneverability.

Provided it was really dropped during the recent strikes, it may come from an F-15 targeted by a surface-to-air missile or experiencing an technical failure.

Noteworthy, whereas some planes flying over Gaza flew without external fuel tanks (see image below), many others carried auxiliary tanks  in spite of the relatively short distance of their bases to the area of operation: the latter were most probably involved in long on-call strike missions against targets of opportunity spotted by drones overflying the Strip.

Image credit: Reuters

 

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Hamas releases images of an Israeli drone lost over Gaza during Pillars of Defense

Among several unconfirmed reports of an Israeli F-16 shot down and two crew members under custody during the third day of military offensive in Gaza, images of what could be the first Israeli Air Force drone downed or lost during Pillars of Defense, were released by Hamas.

Even if the Israeli government spokesman tweeted that the drone that Hamas showed on Al-Aqsa TV is not Israeli and not in service in the IDF, it actually seems to be one of the Israel’s robots filling the skies over Gaza.

The drone, one of those providing targeting and ISR (Intelligence Surveillance Reconnaissance) capabilities in the area, is a Rafael Skylite B UAV.

The Skylite B is a mini-UAV (unmanned aerial vehicle) that uses an electro-optic payload (located on the nose of the drone), stabilized and outfitted with gimbals.

The tiny robot is among the tactical family of drones, those usually deployed for use by infantry forces and which is man-portable (in backpacks) and enables short periods of reconnaissance and surveillance.

The Skylite B is carried in a backpack, easily assembled, launched with a catapult and landed back using a parachute and an air bag.

Provided that it is not a very accurate prop and it was really captured on Nov. 15 (as happened in Syria, several fake images as this one are being spread on the Internet), based on the low quality video, the little damaged UAV was not shot down: it most probably crash landed in the Gaza strip and was later recovered by Hamas.

Image credit: Rafael

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Impressive video shows Iron Dome interceptors night work against Hamas rocket rain

Although there are plenty video available on Youtube (and elsewhere) showing Iron Dome batteries at work, the following one, brought to my attention by Chris Asp is one of the most interesting.

It shows inbound Hamas rockets outside of Beersheva intercepted by the Israeli rocket defense system on Nov. 14.

Although it’s amateur footage, it gives an idea of the amount of missiles fired towards the incoming rain of rockets.

According to the information released by the Israeli Defense Forces, more than 130 rockets had be intercepted during the opening stages of Pillars of Defense.

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[Updated] Israeli Air Force using combat trainers to drop leaflets over Gaza

Initially, the headline of this post was “If this picture is authentic, the Israeli Air Force is using combat trainers and dumb bombs to hit Gaza.”

According to the caption, it was taken on Nov.15, by AP photographer Ariel Schalit, as an Israeli Air Force war plane dropped a bomb over the northern Gaza Strip and it was taken from the Israel Gaza Border.

Image credit: AP/Ariel Schalit

What’s wrong with the caption?

The first weird thing was that the aircraft (a TA-4J) is actually an obsolete two seater trainer plane (to be replaced by the M-346 Master in the near future). This proves the Israeli version of the venerable Skyhawk, locally dubbed “Ayit”, still plays a role in a modern conflict.

My doubts were: are Israeli using such “basic” bombers because of the low lethality scenario in Gaza? Or are they keeping their more advanced F-16I and F-15I advanced combat planes on stand by?

Second detail that made me suspect the photo wasn’t taken today at Gaza was that the TA-4J seems to drop a dumb freefall bomb.

Because of the low resolution of the image, it was quite difficult to say what’s the exact type of the weapon. A cropped version of the same image published by The Times online pointed towards a cluster bomb like an Mk-20 Rockeye or a CBU-87/89.

I ended the article saying: “Summing up, I believe the picture was not taken today at Gaza. The platform and type of ordnance are among the less likely pair we can expect to be employed in Pillar of Defense by the hi-tech Israeli Air Force.”

Then with the help of some readers, I found that the one that can be seen in the picture was an M129 leaflet bomb.

Indeed, according to the IAF website:

This morning the IAF dispersed leaflets in various locations around Gaza Strip. The proclamations call for civilians to stay away from terrorist target areas and emphasize that Hamas is responsible for the situation in Gaza. “For your own safety, take responsibility for your life and abstain from approaching terrorist organizations”

 

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Boom! Video shows Israeli Air Force strike on Hamas Military Chief’s car in the Gaza Strip

Just released by the Israeli Air Force, the following video shows how the the IDF targeted and killed Ahmed Jabri, the head of Hamas’ military wing in the Gaza Strip.

The car in which the senior Hamas operative was moving was surgically wiped out with a PGM (Precision Guided Munition) – most probably a missile fired by a gunship helicopter.

According to the IAF website, Jabri had increased rocket fire from the Gaza Strip: approximately 10,000 rockets have been fired at Israel since he assumed the position.

The urban strike is part of a wider operation dubbed Pillar of Defense, targeting “terror organizations’ underground rocket launching capabilities and munitions ware houses that are owned by Hamas and other terror organizations.”

Image credit: IAF