Photo Credit: Giles Thomas
Elbit’s Hermes 450

Last week, former Likud minister Tzachi Hanegbi told Israel’s News12 that the new Netanyahu government would take steps “to destroy the nuclear facilities in Iran,” should it receive intelligence that Iran is about to produce a nuclear weapon.

“In my assessment, he’ll have no choice but to strike Iran’s nuclear facilities like previous prime ministers ordered to destroy a nuclear facility in Iraq in 1981 and like an order was given in 2007 to destroy the nuclear facility in Syria,” Hanegbi said about the presumed Prime Minister.

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On Friday, Breaking Defense reported, citing defense sources, that the Israeli government had already commissioned from the country’s drone manufacturers, which include Elbit and Aero Sentinel (there were 9 armed-drone startups in Israel in 2015) to develop longer range, higher-speed armed UAVs for future strikes against Iran.

According to Breaking defense, at least three armed UAVs that could be used in an attack on Iran’s nuclear weapons facilities are already in different development phases, including upgrades of existing models, such as Elbit’s Hermes-450, as well as brand-new designs.

The drones will have to be able to travel long distances, “far, very far” from Israel, as one source put it. They will also have to hover undetected for long periods––with air refueling and remain quiet. And, of course, they’ll have to be able to carry high-power warheads.

On November 9, a convoy of 27 Iranian tankers was attacked by drones that destroyed 21 of the container trucks carrying fuel and military equipment to Hezbollah. The attack took place on the Syrian-Iraqi border, and the US was quick to announce that it had nothing to do with the attack. Apparently, every time Iranian shipments are attacked, the Iranians attack US Army bases in Iraq and eastern Syria, so the US didn’t want to suffer another one of those. Israel, on the other hand, is fairly safe from Iranian attacks, because Syrian President Assad has forbidden his Iranian guests to attack across his country’s border with Israel because Israeli retaliation can then take out half his economy.

To effectively disable the Iranian nuclear weapons manufacturing, Israel would have to attack as many of them as possible simultaneously, a task designed for UAVs that can hover lazily above their targets for days until they receive the command to attack.

Israel reportedly operates out of an airfield in Azerbaijan, on Iran’s border, making the operation of a fleet of armed drones easier than having to control it from back home.

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David writes news at JewishPress.com.