Tag Archives: Israeli Air Force

Israel purposely crashed own surveillance drone near Egypt border (and it’s not the first time)

According to Haaretz, on Jul. 14, a Hermes  450 UAV (unmanned aerial vehicle) was purposely downed by the IDF during an unspecified operation near the border with Egypt.

Personnel remotely controlling the drone noticed signs of a technical failure and intentionally downed the UAV in an area where Israel’s security forces could collect the wreckage.

This is not the first time the Israeli forces forced one of their drones to crash due to concerns that the malfunctioning drone could crash into a populated area or go into the wrong hands.

In May, a Heron-class “Shoval” UAV was directed into the sea near Netanya following an engine malfunction whereas in January 2012, an “Eitan,” crashed in southern Israel during a test flight as a consquence of a failure.

As already reported, the IAF operates a huge fleet of UAVs of various kind, used for various purposes, including pinpointing missiles being moved from Lebanon to Syria and performing surveillance next to the border with Egypt made unstable by the anti-Morsi protests.

Noteworthy, according to some readers of The Aviationist, there are so many Israeli drones flying over Lebanon lately, that the Israeli Air Force mistakenly shot down one of them on Apr. 25 near Haifa.

Anyway, whereas future drones, as the U.S. Navy’s new X-47B UAS (Unmanned Aerial System), are capable to autonomously take decisions as important as aborting a landing on an aircraft carrier, current drones still need much human intervention, at least when it comes the need to crash them into the ground.

Top Image: Hermes 450 of the Brasilian Air Force (credit: Wiki)

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An unknown story from the Yom Kippur war: Israeli F-4s vs North Korean MiG-21s

Even if the McDonnell Douglas F-4 was developed as interceptor in response to the need of the U.S. Navy to protect their aircraft carrier, the ultimate version of the Phantom II was the USAF F-4E, a multi-role fighter which was also sold to several air forces around the world.

One of the countries to operate the F-4E was Israel that procured the first examples of the plane in 1969 and later made it the mainstay of its Air Power: the mighty Phantom took part in all the major Arab-Israeli conflicts.

In 1973, during the Yom Kippur War, the Israeli Air force (IAF) found itself facing an Arab Air Forces coalition which was composed not only by Egyptian and Syrian fighter squadrons, but also by units from Algeria, Iraq, Libya and … North Korea, that deployed a MiG-21 squadron to Bir Arida to protect Egypt’s south.

Obviously, at the time,  IAF pilots didn’t know that some of the MiGs they would face were from North Korea. However the first engagement between North Korean pilots and Israeli pilots took place on Oct. 6, 1973 when two F-4 Kurnass (Sledgehammer) pairs from 69 and 119 Squadrons were scrambled from Ramat David Air Base for a patrol over the Gulf of Suez sector.

The F-4s of the two squadrons were teamed together and the 69 pair (which had their crews formed by Shadmi and Gur on board the first aircraft and Shpitzer and Ofer on the other one)  leading the mission.

F-4

Image credit: IAF

It was only after a long patrol, when the jets were already low on fuel, that the F-4s were vectored towards Egypt’s west-northwest: even if they were flying at the high altitude, between 20,000 and 25,000 feet, Gur spotted the pair on his radar, at lower altitude, in a position where achieving a radar lock would be extremely difficult. With the help of a GCI (Ground Control Intercept) station the Israeli Phantoms tracked the enemy formation. Although at suitable distance for an AIM-7 shot, the two F-4s could not engage the enemy planes because bad weather prevented the from indentifying the “bandits.”

However, seconds later, the Israeli pilots saw the two MiG-21s and immediately engaged them: one of the MiGs disappeared, while the other Fishbed was forced into a 1 vs 2 combat.

Alone against the two Kurnass (supported by two more F-4s from 119 Squadron which were flying overhead), the MiG pilot could not escape missile-lock: first, Shadmi and Gur launched an AIM-9D; a second later, they launched another Sidewinder which was followed by a third AIM-9D launched by Shpitzer and Ofer from the other Kurnass.

All the missiles exploded very close to the MiG, but the Fishbed continued flying.

With little gas remaining for more dogfighting, the Israeli Phantoms were forced to skip the engagement and return to base. As they turned eastbound, Gur looked at the MiG and noticed the Fishbed was leaving a white smoke trail. Suddenly, after the F-4s had crossed the coastline, Gur saw the trail of a SAM (Surface to Air Missile) and then an explosion at around 20,000 feet quite close to the MiG-21: Egyptians had shot down one of their aircraft (as it was later confirmed by the IAF Intelligence)!

Only after the end of the war the pilots became aware that the MiG-21 belonged to North Korea.

F-4 formation

Image credit: IAF

Today the 69 Squadron Hammers is based to Hatzerim Air Base and flies the powerful F-15I Ra’am (Thunder) which replaced the mighty F-4 Kurnass beginning in 1998.

What kind of target did the Israeli Air Force really hit in Syria?

Twice between May 3 and 5, the Israeli Air Force conducted air strikes in Syria using Precision Guided Munitions.

The first raid hit a convoy believed to be moving Fateh-110 missiles destined to Hezbollah, whereas the second one hit several ground targets located near Damascus:  the Jamraya scientific research centre (the only one officially confirmed by the Syrian TV), some missile fuel storage depot as well as the 4th Brigade of the Republican Guard’s barracks.

After an open source imagery analysis of Al-Manar TV (a Lebanese satellite television station affiliated with Hezbollah) The Aviationist’s contributor and military expert Giuliano Ranieri was able to locate the site of the attack near Jamraya research center.

jam

Actually, it’s is still not clear whether the center, attacked in January, was hit again or not; still, the building complex targeted in the night between May 4 and 5 could have been be a research center’s back-up structure, used to continue scientific works.

jam MOD 1

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Images of the site seem to show that no penetrating weapons were employed nor ventilation systems, typical of underground bunkers can be seen, a sign that, quite likely, the target could have been a mysterious facility operating under cover rather than a military installation.

target 1

“It’s hard to understand what the facilities was: just dead hens and collapsed walls can be seen in the photos published by the media outlets…” Ranieri explains.

Regardless of what the facility might have hidden, the attack seem to have been accurate and quite far from populated areas.

Mideast Syria Israel

Another sortie was made against a munition depot near Al-Dimaas, 15 km from Jamraya.

 

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Examining Israeli Air Force Weaponeering in the Damascus Strike

For the second time in three days, strike aircraft of the Israeli Air Force (IAF) attacked targets in the vicinity of Damascus International Airport.  The targets are alleged to have been shipments of Syrian ballistic missiles bound for Hezbollah fighters in Lebanon.  U.S. Intelligence sources and open-source reporting have claimed that Israeli jets struck these weapons caches during the first raid without penetrating Syrian airspace.

If it is true that Israeli fighters remained over Lebanon during the strike, it raises interesting questions regarding the choice of weapons used in the raid.  The distance from the Lebanese border to Damascus prevents the use of JDAM series weapons or Paveway series Laser Guided Bombs.  However, by examining the IAF order of battle, it can be inferred that the Israelis likely utilized the Rafael Popeye standoff missile to strike these targets.

The IAF currently utilizes three weapons that possess the range and precision targeting capabilities necessary for the Damascus raid.  The Popeye, with a reported 48 nm range, could easily be launched from inside Lebanese airspace and fly the approximately 30 nm to strike Damascus.  Additionally, the end-game EO/IR targeting and large 750 lb warhead makes the weapon a logical choice.

It is unlikely, but possible, that the Israelis used the Delilah air to surface missile.  Delilah was originally conceived as a low-speed, loitering weapon that could strike moving targets and be reprogrammed after launch.  The loiter capability of the weapon makes it ideal for attacking surface to air (SAM) sites or radars as well as high value mobile targets such as ballistic missiles.  However, the small 66 lb warhead is a poor choice for a large target such as a warehouse.

It is also possible that the Israelis used the GBU-39 Small Diameter Bomb.  The folding wings of the glide weapon give the requisite range.  However, the small warhead makes the weapon a less attractive choice, unless a large number of the weapons were used.  The GBU-39 uses a JDAM style GPS guidance system and is believed to only have been integrated on the F-15I strike fighter.

Michael Glynn for TheAviationist.com

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Salva

Israeli Air Force strikes Syria for the second time. Syrian air defenses unable to react.

For the second time in three days, the Israeli Air Force has conducted air strikes in Syria.

If the first raid hit a convoy believed to be moving Fateh-110 missiles destined to Hezbollah, the one launched in the night between May 4 and 5 pounded several targets located near Damascus:  the Jamraya scientific research centre (the only one officially confirmed by the Syrian TV), some missile fuel storage depot as well as the 4th Brigade of the Republican Guard’s barracks.

By the type of targets allegedly hit by the last raid we can assume that Israel is not only worried that the Fateh-110 missiles coming via Lebanon could reach Hezbollah, but also that Tel Aviv wants to degrade the Syrian capability to use its chemical weapons by neutralizing its Scud missiles fuel stocks.

In other words, since destroying CW warehouses could be difficult and dangerous, they are attacking the missiles fuel depots.

Indeed, the following video most probably shows the massive explosion of a fuel depot hit by Laser Guided Bombs.

A mushroom cloud that reminds that of nuclear weapons (even if, quite obviously, no nukes were dropped).

The attack on the Republican Guard (provided the elite unit was not hit just because it was next to the missiles to defend them), may have been a message to Assad: Israel can hit his closest ring of defense against the rebels.

Regardless of the purpose of the attack, what is quite evidend is that the Israeli fighters can almost freely violate (Lebanon and) Syria’s airspace without being disturbed too much by the local air defenses.

As explained after the Israeli air strike on a weapons convoy and military complex near Damascus, in January, the IAF bombers entered and egressed the Syrian airspace almost completely undetected thanks to a huge Electronic Warfare support.

IAF F-15 take off

An integral part of the “package” involved in the air strikes over Syria must have been Israeli ELINT aircraft and the Suter airborne network system capable to blind the Syrian radars, monitor them, or inject misleading information.

Perhaps many Assad’s air defenses have been sabotaged or hit by the rebels activity but the area is still believed to be heavily defended by several Soviet-made SAM (Surface to Air Missile) batteries.

In June 2012, a Syrian coastal anti-aircraft artillery battery downed a Turkish Air Force RF-4E Phantom that had violated the Syrian airspace over the Mediterranean Sea, proving Damascus’s air defenses capabilities.

A major role, especially in the phases preceding the attack was also played by drones, performing ISR (Intelligence Surveillance and Reconnaissance) missions in South Lebanon and, possibly, along the border with Syria.

The IAF operates a huge fleet of UAVs of various kind, used for various purposes, including pinpointing missiles being moved from Lebanon to Syria.

Noteworthy, according to some readers of The Aviationist, there are so many Israeli drones flying over Lebanon lately, that the Israeli Air Force mistakenly shot down one of them on Apr. 25 near Haifa. A blue-on-blue episode or just speculation?

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