Tag Archives: Hermes

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.

 

Iran shows U.S. stealth drone captured last year

Dating back to Oct. 10, 2012, the following report (brought to my attention by Giuliano Ranieri – thanks!), aired by Al-Manar TV (Lebanon) and made available on Youtube by the MEMRI (Middle East Media Research Institute) TV, shows what seems to be the U.S. RQ-170 Sentinel drone captured by Iran in December 2011.

Provided it is not the model on display at Tehran in Feb.11 rallies.

The stealthy drone, was put on display along with missiles with the aim to acquaint the public with the capabilities of the IRGC.

The report says Iran has developed its new drones (including the new Israeli Hermes 450/Watchkeeper clone capable of carrying missiles and the VTOL tilt-wing UAV) based on technologies possibly adopted from the RQ-170.

However, in spite of all claims, Tehran has not provided substantiated any evidence to prove it has really decoded the radar-evading tech in the captured Sentinel.

Iran’s new spy drone is an Israeli Hermes 450/Watchkeeper clone. Capable of carrying missiles.

It looks like Iran’s new UAV (unmanned aerial vehicle), disclosed by recent pictures and, more in details, by the footage recently aired by Press TV, has nothing to do with the U.S. stealth RQ-170 captured in December 2011.

Although the details of its internal equipment, sensor array and ground control station are still unknown (therefore it’s almost impossible to rule out the possibility that the new drone has some features in common with the Sentinel crash landed last year) the new “Shahed 129” is largely based on the Israeli Hermes 450 model, rather than the Sentinel.

Same shape, size, landing gear type and performance. Only the wing mounting is slightly different from the Israeli MALE (Medium Altitude Long Endurance) spy robot, but quite similar to the one of the Watchkeeper WK450, the Hermes version used for Intelligence, Surveillance, Target Acquisition and Reconnaissance (ISTAR) purposes by the British Army.

The new remotely piloted vehicle is claimed to have an endurance of 24 hours and an operative range up to 2,000 kilometers. Noteworthy, unlike the Hermes or the Watchkeeper, the domestic built Shahed 129 is claimed to be able to carry weapons making it a real UCAV (Unmanned Combat Aerial Vehicle), even if the first images surfaced so far don’t show any underwing pylon nor missile/bomb.

Considered the similarities between the Shahed and the Hermes design, there are some chances that the Iranians have not only captured a U.S. stealthy drone but maybe also some Israeli or British Hermes/Watchkeeper involved in a covert mission (as claimed last year), that they were really able to reverse engineer.