In response to a growing threat from Iranian-made military drones, the IDF has embarked on a nationwide upgrade of its air defenses, The Times of Israel reported on Tuesday.
Starting with the northern region, closest to the border with Syria and Lebanon, the military plans a two-year program to enhance its fixed air defense systems, which are supplemented by mobile batteries in times of heightened tensions or actual hostilities. The upgrade will include additional radar arrays to improve detection of incoming aircraft.
The unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) have become increasingly available to terrorist groups in proximity to Israel. The UAV’s pose special difficulties in detection and elimination due to their small size, lower altitudes and less predictable flight patterns than rockets.
Israeli officials cite the damaging 2019 attack by Iran on Saudi Arabia’s Aramco oil facility, carried out with a mix of drones and cruise missiles, to justify the anti-drone upgrade.
“Anyone who says that it can’t happen to us isn’t a professional,” Maj. Gen. Aharon Haliva, now the head of Military Intelligence, said at the time.
Israel shot down one such drone in May, which then-prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu said had been launched into Israeli airspace from either Syria or Iraq.
Iran has been exporting drones to its Houthi allies in Yemen, to proxies in Syria and Iraq, and to the Hezbollah terror group in Lebanon, as well as supplying designs for UAVs to Hamas and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad terror groups in the Gaza Strip. Some of these drones have ranges of thousands of kilometers and others have stealth capabilities, some of which Iran has stolen from American models, the Times noted.