Israeli Shot-Down Drone Sea Launched?
|Sea-launched Ababil UAV|
- The Hezbollah-affiliated al-Mayadeen channel reported Sunday that the drone originated in Lebanon and flew 100 km into Israeli airspace, however the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon did not detect any UAVs leaving Lebanese airspace. Lebanese Hezbollah (LH) has been bolstering its UAV force with Iranian built tactical UAVs, so it might be possible that an aircraft flew undetected through across the border. The Israelis confirmed the drone did not originate in Gaza and some sources to point to Lebanon. The problem is that the aircraft would have flown at least 200 km and LH probably doesn't possess any UAVs in the inventory capable of this range.
- Twitterati @drunkenpredator speculates that the aircraft might have been an Ababil 3, launched at sea from a small fishing boat or other craft. Some reports indicate that the aircraft arrived in Israeli airspace from over the Mediterranean, flying west to east. The Ababil (max range likely 150 km) can be launched from a tiny footprint using a pneumatic rail or rocket boosters and has been tested at sea by the Iranians. This theory seems unlikely though, in that it appears there is no way for the Ababil to recover at sea. Non-state actors, even those as well-kitted as LH, would be unlikely to use a limited inventory of these valuable assets for one-way trips. And although LH has demonstrated maritime capacity in the form of anti-ship missiles and cargo ships to smuggle said weapons, they likely don't have a real surface capability, even using small craft.
- It was an American carrier-launched UAV! This would be interesting indeed, but completely implausible given there are currently no U.S. CVNs in the Mediterranean.
- Here, more speculation that the unidentified aircraft came from a ship - a space ship. I'm going go with a no on this one.
|Israeli CH-53s examine UAV wreckage. (Hiam Horenstein)|