Downed drone was likely IranianAmerican. It is far more likely, however, that the drone was Iranian and that it was dispatched from Lebanon. In fact, YNet even suggests the possibility that it was sent by Iran itself (Hat Tip: Doug Ross) to photograph the Dimona nuclear reactor.
A few hours after two fighter jets shot down a small unmanned aircraft that penetrated Israeli airspace in the south Saturday morning, it is safe to say that an element operating in Lebanon under the auspices of Iran and with its support, apparently Hezbollah, activated the drone. The drone itself, which was downed in the south Mount Hebron area, was apparently made in Iran.
Operating a drone by remote control from such a long distance requires advanced capabilities, which Israel was not aware Hezbollah had acquired.
Hezbollah's drones have infiltrated Israeli airspace in the past, from the north, but their activation did not require any navigation system. The unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) that infiltrated Israel on Saturday did require such a system. The incident showed that the Air Force has the ability to detect and intercept drones at any stage of their flight.The fact that the drone flew over the Sea rather than over land as first reported makes it more likely that the IDF had located the drone earlier in its flight as claimed. The question is what will happen if Hezbullah or Iran or Syria (or some combination of them) launch multiple drones together. Will the IAF be up to the challenge? We can only hope and pray that's the case.
The drone was apparently launched by Iran or one of its allies to test the IDF's detection and interception capabilities, and perhaps even to search for specific targets in south Israel. The drone apparently began its flight in Lebanon and then headed in the direction of Gaza's coastline after flying over the Mediterranean Sea. This route was chosen not only because it utilized the depth of the sea's airspace, but also because Israeli UAVs regularly hover above Gaza.
Hezbollah tried to conceal the fact that it had sent the drone by selecting a long route that passed through the Mediterranean Sea. It wanted the drone to enter Israel near Gaza, perhaps in an attempt to place the blame on Hamas, which is currently considered hostile to elements that are loyal to Iran.
And by the way, what would the IAF have done if the drone was full of explosives? Try to force it out to see first by taking over its navigation system? Hmmm.
Israel Radio reports that four IAF jets flew over Lebanon on Sunday creating sonic booms to entertain the public.