Tag Archives: drones

Looks like the Israeli Air Force (or a U.S. drone…) launched a surprise attack on Sudan

Although it didn’t get much attention, something quite unexpected happened in the last days: Israel has attacked Sudan.

This is what seems to emerge in the aftermath of a mysterious explosion that occurred in a arms factory in Khartoum on Oct. 24.

Sudan accused that the Yarmouk munitions factory in Sudan, believed to be supplying weapons to the Hamas movement in the Gaza Strip, was indeed attacked in Israeli Air Force’s last long-range raid against a nearby “dangerous terrorist state.”

Although it was neither confirmed nor denied by Tel Aviv, a raid in Sudan is highly plausible and technically easy for an air force that is quite used to surprise strike missions abroad, even when they foresee some foreign airspace violations.

Provided that it was really an IAF air strike (and not, for instance, a cruise missile attack), the operation was easier than the complex campaign needed to smash Iran’s nuclear program (possibly requiring a stopover along the way): most probably, no more than a few F-15I Ra’am or F-16I Sufa were used to struck the plant south of Sudan’s capital town.

Departing from Hatzerim or Ovda airbases with a low level mission profile, an Electronic Warfare escort to help passing undetected along the borders with Jordan and Egypt and reach the Red Sea, and an AEW (Airborne Early Warning) asset to detect any aerial threat, the aircraft had to rely on (buddy?) tankers to reach their target located some 1,800 km away from Negev.

Drones were probably used to provide ISR (Intelligence Surveillance and Reconnaissance) prior to the strike.

This is just a likely scenario, involving about 15 aircraft, including spares, CSAR (Combat Search And Rescue) and support assets. A test for a possible strike on Iran and a message to some dangerous neighbor. Moreover, the Israeli Air Force is not only capable to launch such an operation, it has already successfully completed a few.

Image credit: IAF

Still, the attack on the Yarmouk factory would have been even easier if launched by drones. Small target, well inside an almost undefended airspace. A perfect “place” for an unmanned killer robot, capable to silently fly for 24 or more hours.

Speculation on: take a look at a map. Don’t you notice something interesting?

The largest U.S. drone base in the area is not that far. Camp Lemonnier in Djibouti has already been used to launch drone air strikes in Yemen and elsewhere in the region.

Although a bit far fetched this theory would still be coherent with the fact that Israel has not officially confirmed the authorship of the raid: without doing anything they would get credit for a successful military operation with significant psychological side effects few weeks after suffering the offence of an airspace violation by a Hezbollah drone.

Six MQ-9 Reaper, four MQ-1 Predator drones flying simultaneously, set new world record

A new non-combat record was set on Oct. 2, 2012 by the 29th Attack Squadron, 9th Attack Squadron, and the 6th Reconnaissance Squadron which flew six MQ-9 Reapers and four MQ-1 Predators simultaneously during a training mission at Holloman Air Force Base, New Mexico.

The new record was made possible by the recent increased training capacity of the 29th ATKS, 9th ATKS and the 6th RS, the squadrons that train all of the Air Force MQ-1 and MQ-9 aircrew members, that brought from 6 to 10, the amount of lines, (consisting of the aircraft, a ground control station and all maintenance and flight personnel required to keep an aircraft airborne) needed to meet the U.S. Air Force drone force training requirements.

The record-setting training flights were manned by 10 crews composed of instructors and students, both pilots and sensor operators.

It will arrive the day when there are more drones than conventional planes flying at a certain time….

Image credit: U.S. Air Force

The news of the record breaking came the day after Felix Baumgartner’s supersonic jump broke three world records.

Israeli Air Force releases video of mysterious drone shot down by an F-16 over Israeli airspace

An unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) that had penetrated the Israeli airspace in the morning of Oct. 6, was identified and intercepted by what looks like an Israeli Air Force F-16 fighter jet at approximately 10:00 AM (07.00 GMT).

IDF soldiers are currently searching the area where the drone was downed, in open areas in the northern Negev, to locate and identify the drone.

Even if clearly identifying the type of drone is impossible, by comparing the size of the air-to-air missile that hit it, the mysterious robot seems to be quite small. Not as small as the bird-like American drone spotted in Iraq and Afghanistan, but probably much smaller that the Shahed 129, Iran’s new spy drone (an Israeli Hermes 450/Watchkeeper clone) allegedly capable of carrying missiles.

H/T to Guido Olimpio for the heads-up

New images of the mystery bird-like drone crashed in Pakistan. Taken in Iraq.

In August 2011, a video clip from Kalam TV brought to light the capture of a mysterious American bird-like drone crashed over southwestern Pakistan (image below).

Although initially believed to be a sort of home made job, a more in-depth analysis of the images taken at the crash site, showed that the unusual, never seen before robot, was quite sophisticated: the drone had flapping wings, ailerons and a belly camera to spy on insurgents along the border between Afghanistan and Pakistan.

What nobody knew at that time was that the (American) mystery bird drone was far from being new, as it had already been used in Iraq.

In fact, a reader of this site sent me an email to explain that the same weird UAV downed in Pakistan had been captured by the Iraqi Hezbollah near al-Bashra, in Iraq, on May 23, 2009 (original video source of the following screenshots can be found here).

Unlike the Pakistan example, the one crashed in Iraq and filmed by Hezbollah, seems to be in better conditions, with its underfuselage camera and moving parts, fairly intact.

When the few images of the bird drone spread online someone speculated it could just have been a DIY rc model made by soldiers with their equipment or a low-cost UAV assembled by China or India to satisfy their insatiable need to spy.

The fact that it was probably already flying in Iraq two years before crashing in Pakistan, proves that the bird-like UAV is not a toy but a small combat proven spy drone.

Syrian regime's drone workshop with Saeqeh UAVs (and evidence of Iranian support) captured by the rebels in Aleppo

The following video, just uploaded to Youtube, allegedly shows an Assad regime’s drone workshop in Aleppo, just captured by the rebels.
Interestingly, the type of drones depicted in the footage are not the “Pahpad“, the UAV (Unmanned Aerial Vehicle) most frequently spotted spying on the Free Syrian Army around Homs and elsewhere in Syria since the beginning of the uprising, but what looks like Iranian “Saeqeh” ones.

The Saeqeh are a family of Iranian target drones similar to the Ababil UAVs. Those in the video have some canard wings that make them different from the previous versions. This could mean that those captured in Aleppo are either improved Saeqeh UAVs or Ababil (although similar to the Ababil II, those in the workshop are not that type of drone), used for reconnaissance missions.

Along with the drones, the rebels reportedly found also the manuals of to operate/overhaul them (as well as documents whose cover depicts Iranian Grand Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini).

H/T to @troublejee for the heads-up