Israel anticipates that terrorists in Lebanon and Gaza will deploy exploding drones in a future war, as well as their main rocket arsenals, the chief of Israeli air defense said on Monday.
“We will have to cope with dozens of pilotless aerial vehicles, in both the northern and southern fronts,” Major-General Shachar Shohat, told a Tel Aviv security conference.
Uzi Rabin, an Israeli aerospace expert, said Israel’s Iron Dome and Patriot missile interceptors were capable of shooting down most drones. Israel is separately developing Iron Beam, a laser system for vaporising short-range mortar bombs and says it also will be able to destroy small drones.
Shohat said the terrorists’ drones would range from radio-controlled model airplanes weighing a few pounds to large drones with payloads of hundreds of pounds.
Another air force officer said Shohat was referring to drones carrying explosives and designed to crash into targets.
The reference to the heavier kind of vehicle, suggested Israel expects that Lebanon’s Hizbullah terrorist organization will receive such drones from Iran.
Drones flew into Israeli airspace from Lebanon on at least two occasions in 2012 and 2013, apparently on photography missions and bids to probe air defenses. Israeli jets shot them down.
After the 2012 incident, Hizbullah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah acknowledged sending a drone that flew some 25 miles into Israel. He said the drone’s parts were made in Iran and it was assembled by Hizbullah members in Lebanon.
Nasrallah denied that Hizbullah or the Iranian Revolutionary Guards were responsible for the 2013 flight.