On January 7, the journalist Hamza Wael Al-Dahdouh He is riding in a car, with his fellow journalist Mustafa Thuraya, on a mission as part of his work with the Al Jazeera crew inside the Al-Mawasi area in the southwest of the Gaza Strip, the area to which civilians were displaced as a result of the Israeli bombing of several areas in the Strip. But that day, the Israeli hand of treachery decided to target the two journalists, while performing their duty to convey the truth, with a missile strike from an Israeli drone. Mustafa and Hamza, the son of Wael Al-Dahdouh, director of Al-Jazeera’s office in Gaza, were martyred as a result of the bombing.
The Israeli occupation army has been using drones to carry out assassinations for years, as part of a long list of uses of drones in the war on the Gaza Strip. The Israeli occupation forces benefit from the advantages of these advanced weapons, especially in reconnaissance operations, collecting intelligence information, and photographing different roads and places for the benefit of teams. Infantry soldiers, in the process of controlling targets and assessing battle damage, and of course in lethal attacks on various targets.
In 2022, the occupying state’s arms exports amounted to about $12.5 billion, and drone sales represented about a quarter of these total exports (1). As one of the former commanders of the Israeli Air Force stated, in an interview with him in the same year (2), that 80% to 90% of flying hours in the Air Force are carried out by unmanned aerial vehicles.
This is a short list of the most important and famous drones used by the occupation army in its ongoing war on the Gaza Strip.
One of the most important offensive drones used by the occupation army is the “IAI Eitan” drone, or “Heron-TB”, which is the largest aerial drone in Israel, as it is about 14 meters long and has wings up to 26 meters long. meters, and it can fly for up to 36 continuous hours, at a speed of 370 km per hour, and at an altitude of up to 45 thousand feet (3).
While the newest, largest and most powerful version is the “Hermes 900” drone, which was first used by the occupation army in its war on Gaza in 2014, and then officially entered service in the army in 2017. During the ongoing Israeli aggression on the Gaza Strip, the Al-Qassam Brigades announced, on Wednesday the third of In January, it was able to shoot down a Hermes 900 reconnaissance plane with an anti-aircraft missile east of Gaza City (7).
This drone is known in the Israeli Air Force as “Kochav”, which is a Hebrew word meaning star. Its weight is 1.1 tons, its payload is about 350 kg, and it is distinguished by its ability to remain in the air for up to 36 hours, and fly at an altitude of up to 30,000 feet, with a maximum speed of up to 220 kilometers per hour. It is controlled by two people from the ground control station, and is equipped with a variety of weapons, including the ability to carry four AGM-114 Hellfire air-to-surface missiles or AIM-92 Stinger air-to-air missiles. In addition, it can carry GBU-12 Fiveway laser-guided bombs or JDAM bombs to target critical locations and carry out multiple missions such as attacks, engagements, assassinations and special missions.
The drone can transport a variety of payloads thanks to its large structure and high carrying capacity. It is also equipped with high-performance sensors, and can effectively detect and track land and sea targets, in addition to its ability to carry out two missions simultaneously. Following in the footsteps of its previous version, the Hermes 900 drone achieved widespread success and was purchased by several countries, including Switzerland, Canada, Brazil, Chile, Mexico, Switzerland, the Philippines, and Thailand (8).
Another of the most important new attack drones is the “Spike FireFly” drone, which is part of the “Spike” family of precision-guided missiles developed and produced by the Israeli weapons company “Rafael”. It is an explosive, or suicide (kamikaze) drone, that carries explosive power and can attack… Direct targets or flying and waiting for the target to appear (9). The Israeli occupation army stated that the “414th Field Intelligence Battalion” used the “Spike Firefly” drone for the first time in targeting operations in Khan Yunis during the ongoing war, but the same drone has been in use for months, and the army used it several times in attacks on the occupied West Bank, and it was It was first used in Jenin camp in July last year (10).
This drone was designed with a light weight, about 3 kg, for use by infantry soldiers and special forces personnel in urban warfare. Despite its small size, it has great destructive power, because it is armed with a multi-directional high-explosive warhead weighing 350 grams, which provides lethal force against targets hidden behind structures. Concrete outside the field of view.
It requires one person to operate it, is controlled via a tablet-like hand controller, and can operate and fly in autonomous mode by selecting pre-defined points and flight plans on the route. The aircraft is equipped with several imaging sensors, enabling it to accurately track and engage the target, with a maneuvering speed of up to 60 km per hour, a landing speed of up to 70 km per hour, and an operational range of 1 km in open areas and reduced to 0.5 km in cities.
The design and shape of the drone may seem strange compared to well-known designs that resemble traditional aircraft. At the top and middle of the structure, there are double propeller blades on one axis, which provide lift and propulsion for the drone. These blades can be folded when storing the drone to facilitate transportation and movement with it. The drone operates on electric propulsion power via a removable battery that provides it with flight capability for a relatively short period of about 15 minutes, and can reach 30 minutes when the warhead is replaced with an additional battery, and the aircraft is then used for reconnaissance and intelligence gathering operations (11).
The occupying state is not satisfied with these drones that it manufactures, but also resorts to the most powerful models provided by the United States, as the Israeli Broadcasting Corporation indicated, last November, that the occupying state requested the United States to purchase 200 “Switch Blade 600” suicide drones. (Switchblade 600), which are aircraft that have an advanced camera and can carry an amount of explosive materials, and they have the ability to receive information from nearby drones. The Switch Build 600 is primarily used to attack nearby targets. This model has a range of up to 40 kilometers and the ability to fly for 40 minutes. These are the same aircraft that the US Army provided to Ukraine last year in its war against Russia (12).
Reconnaissance and spy drones
One of the famous series of drones is the “Skylark” drones, which are used by the occupation army in reconnaissance, intelligence, spying, and target acquisition operations on the battlefield during war to assist infantry soldiers, and are manufactured and produced by the “Elbit Systems” weapons company.
The occupation army uses different versions of this drone in its war on the Gaza Strip. For example, at the end of last December, the Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades broadcast scenes of a Skylark-2 drone that it said it had captured during an intelligence mission west of Beit Hanoun, north of Beit Hanoun. Gaza Strip (13).
In 2016, the company unveiled the latest version in this series, which is the “Skylark-3” drone (14), which has a maximum weight of about 40 kg, including a payload of about 10 kg, and can remain in the air for 5 hours, flying. At an altitude of 15 thousand feet (15).
The Israeli Air Force also added several new drones for reconnaissance and espionage missions. For example, in September of last year 2023, the Air Force received a new drone called “Spark”, developed by the Israeli army with “Aeronautics”, which is one of the companies. Affiliated to Rafael Arms Company (16). The occupation army did not reveal much information about this new drone, but it belongs to the 144th Squadron of the Israeli Air Force, and it is part of the “Orbiter” family of drones manufactured by the same company. It usually weighs about 55 kg and has a wingspan of about 5 meters. In the shape of wings.
In the current war on the Gaza Strip, the Israeli Air Force announced the beginning of its operations using this new drone, in reconnaissance and intelligence missions, assisting infantry soldiers, and in efforts to discover the network of tunnels used by the Palestinian resistance (17).
The Israeli army also uses drones manufactured by the emerging Israeli company “Xtend”. No details were published about the use of these drones, but the founders of the startup company spoke to the newspaper “The Economist” (18) that the army uses their models of drones in its war in Gaza, and one of the copies The new Xtender small reconnaissance drone is designed for indoor and underground reconnaissance missions, and can carry a small explosive warhead weighing up to 150 grams.
The drone can be controlled by wearing virtual reality glasses, which allow the drone operator to see what the associated camera sees in real time. The operator uses the joystick with one hand to direct the drone to specific places inside the building, such as a window or door, by selecting the cursor on the place and then clicking on it on the screen of the virtual reality glasses. Once the drone knows its destination, it flies to the place on its own (19).
The company also produces another larger model, “Wolverine,” and it can carry more than ten times the payload of the smaller “Extender” drone. The drone may carry a radar to detect the presence of humans through walls, to ensure that buildings are safe, and it is often used to inspect packages. Explosives and explosives.
The occupying state is also not satisfied with these local drones, but rather seeks the help of American technology companies that produce drones that rely on artificial intelligence to move, as a report in the newspaper “Politico”, last November, indicated that hours after the “Al-Aqsa Flood” attack The Israeli occupation army quickly contacted Skydio, an American technology company that produces drones, and asked it to supply short-range reconnaissance aircraft that rely on artificial intelligence to move without the need for human guidance, and are used to conduct three-dimensional surveys of complex engineering structures. Such as buildings of various types.
Within the next three weeks, the American company sent more than 100 new drones of this type to the occupation army, with a promise to send more in the future, according to Mark Valentine, the company’s executive director responsible for government contracting (20).
1) Israel records $12.5 billion in defense exports, led by drones, air defense
2) Former Second in Command of the Israeli Air Force: Today 80-90 % of IDF flight hours are done by drones
3) Heron TP (Eitan) MALE UAV
5) Israeli army document confirms use of Hermes 450 drones in assassinations
6) Elbit Hermes 450
9) Spike FireFly Miniature Tactical Loitering Weapon
10) Israel uses new defense technology on Gaza battlefield
11) Rafael SPIKE Firefly
14) Elbit unveils Skylark 3 UAV
15) Sky sheet 3
16) Israel’s air force officially receives new, secretive Spark UAV, ‘gateway’ to 5th gen drones
17) Israeli Air Force deploys Spark UAV in operations against Hamas in Gaza
18) How Israel is using drones in Gaza
19) ‘Point And Click’ Drones Helping Protect IDF Soldiers In Battle
20) Israel’s appetite for high-tech weapons highlights a Biden policy gap