Wednesday, August 27, 2014

(En - 27 Aug 2014 - News) What’s wrong with the story of Iran shooting down an Israeli stealth drone near Natanz nuclear facility

On Aug. 24, several Iranian media outlets reported the news of an Israeli drone shot down near Natanz nuclear enrichment facility in central Iran.
According to FARS, the Revolutionary Guards Public (IRGC) Relations Department said that the drone was a stealth, radar-evading  model targeted by a surface-to-air missile. Then, on Aug. 25, Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) Aerospace Force Brigadier General Amir Ali Hajizadeh said that “The downed spy drone is Hermes and made in Israel.”
Even if the news that an Israeli drone was operating inside Iranian airspace is not a big surprise, what makes IRGC claims a bit weird is the fact that Hermes drones are not stealth and their operational range is known to be much lower than the 800 kilometers claimed by Hajizadeh (who added that the unmanned aircraft is capable of flying 1,600 kilometers without refueling). And, above all, the shape of the aircraft does not resemble that of a Hermes 180 or 450.
Indeed, the drone is identical to a mysterious drone shot down in 2011 by Armenian forces in the disputed territory of Nagorno Karabakh. At that time Azerbaijan denied the unmanned aircraft belonged to Baku. Then a drone of the same type, most probably made in Israel (with inputs from both the Hermes 180 and 450) was displayed during an Armenian parade as the following image shows.
Interestingly, the “Azeri” drone showcased in the parade (nose section has been highlighted to help identifying it in the images of wreckage) didn’t carry any national flag/roundel, unlike the other models operated by the Azerbaijani forces.
We don’t know anything about this somehow mysterious drone but its range is unlikely to make a round trip to Natanz possible from both Azerbaijan and northern Iraq (someone suggested this could be the launch area). Actually, the size of the drone is quite small, much smaller than a Hermes 450, meaning that it’s most probably a tactical, short-medium range UAV.
Indeed, most recent reports said that the aircraft was shot down “on the way” to Natanz. So, it seems more likely that the drone, made-in-Israel (although it’s not confirmed) and possibly launched from Azerbaijan was shot down/crashed somewhere closer to the border and then moved near Natanz

Thursday, August 21, 2014

(Fr - 21 Aout 2014 - Actu) le trafic aérien, menacé par le Hamas, est très peu perturbé

Israël ne cède pas face au Hamas. En dépit des menaces, les avions décollent et atterrissent à Tel-Aviv ce jeudi. Mercredi, l'organisation palestinienne a menacé de cibler l'aéroport Ben Gourion et mis en garde les compagnies aériennes qui le desservent.
Ce jeudi, tous les avions ont été maintenus, selon Le Figaro qui a contacté l'Autorité aéroportuaire israélienne. Le site Flightradar indique que plusieurs vols sont retardés au départ comme à l'arrivée, mais ne mentionne aucune annulation.
Des mesures ont toutefois été prises pour éviter que les menaces du Hamas soient efficaces, si elles sont mises à exécution: les couloirs aériens ont été déplacés vers le nord, des missiles et des forces de police ont été déployés, ajoute le journal. A quoi s'ajoute le "Dôme de fer", le système d'interception et de destruction des roquettes palestiniennes.

(En - 21 Aug 2014 - News) The IDF’s first fully digital war

On July 22, a team of paratroopers, stationed in a house in Gaza, took fire from locations unknown. “There are terrorists in the area,” a radio operator on the ground said. “They are dynamic. We need you to help locate them.”
The pilot of an aircraft, identifying himself by the call name Tzofit, chimed in: We are above you. We can see them firing.
The pilot then presumably relayed the precise location of the gunmen to the troops, who responded by saying, to the rather surprised pilot, “The location you’re talking about, I’m inside on the second floor.”
“You’re inside the house and the terrorists are in the same house, one floor above you?” the pilot asked, on a video released by the army.
“Yes, exactly,” the infantryman said.
Moments later the pilot spotted the operatives sprinting through a date orchard and down a street. “We followed them and destroyed them,” he told the soldiers on the ground.
“If you destroyed them, then I’m relaxed, because they were firing at us,” the infantryman said.
“I know. You can be relaxed,” the pilot responded. “We’re above you.”
The fact that the ground troops and the air force were able to communicate, accurately locate one another, and destroy the enemy is not entirely new. The technology has existed in theory for several years. But Operation Protective Edge, the first large scale operation in which the IDF’s Digital Army Program was widely used, saw a greater interconnectivity of forces than ever before – a fact that helped thwart an array of infiltration attempts, streamlined offensive missions, and, presumably, reduced the likelihood of friendly fire.
Two officers from the IDF’s computers directorate, known as C4I (Command, Control, Communications, Computers and Intelligence), discussed the army’s digital trial by fire during the past month or so of warfare.
“The command and control systems were used to unprecedented effect,” said Maj. Moran Mayorchik, the commander of the tactical connectivity department in the IDF’s C4I Directorate.
Explaining how the systems work, she said that video and camera footage from a wide array of sources is funneled back from the field to a central core and from there streamed forward, either automatically or based on an HQ staff officer’s decision, to the appropriate commanders in the field.
The soldiers not only receive the relevant footage but can also keep track of enemy and friendly forces on a digital map. If they have questions about a certain locale, Mayorchik said, they can post queries into the system.
For example, Mayorchik said, a battalion commander in the field, curious to know what is happening several blocks ahead, can ask for a view of a certain intersection, if available, or for input from other troops, in the air, land or sea. “And that situational picture is common to everyone,” she said.
Cap. Nitzan Malka, the commander of the tactical forecasting desk at the C4I Directorate, noted the role of Radio over Internet Protocol.  Where once Special Forces troops had to carry a special radio to so much as speak with the air force on its own frequency – and other troops had to relay information back and forth through, at best, one HQ – today the frequency gap is bridged by RoIP technology.
“Take Zikim,” said Malka. During that July 8 infiltration to Israel, a large squad of Hamas frogmen swam from Gaza to Israel. Navy radars picked up the movements on the surface of the water. The warning was passed on to the military intelligence directorate’s surveillance operators along the coast. A private, manning one of the screens on the Zikim base, spotted the men emerging from the water; the video footage and the warning was delivered simultaneously to infantry troops in the vicinity and to available aircraft. Both engaged the enemy, killing the infiltrators. “There used to be islands of communication,” said Malka, where each force in the field reported back to its headquarters from its distinct vantage point. “Today it’s connected.”
There are dangers, though. Commanders can be overloaded with needless information, an unnecessary and possibly fatal distraction during combat. The army, reliant on reservists in a time of war, can advance to a place where reservists are unfamiliar with the new systems and lack the time to learn. And new recruits, constantly fondling electronic toys, can neglect the basics of map-reading, which can prove especially necessary during a time of technical malfunction.
Mayorchik acknowledged the dangers, but said that the advantages of knowing what lurks behind a dark corner, knowing “the color of the shirt the enemy is wearing,” creates a true “common language” between the forces in the field.  With the pace of technological advances today, she said, “the sky is the limit.”

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

(En - 07 Aug 2014 - News) Israeli Hermes drone over Gaza with dorsal satellite antenna

Taken over Gaza City on Aug. 3 by AP’s Dusan Vranic, the photo is not only extremely beautiful because of large moon (magnified by the zoom lens) in the background: it is the first to date showing a modified Israeli Hermes 450 UAV (Unmanned Aerial Vehicle) carrying the two “new” underwing pods (possibly containing SIGINT sensors or guns) with a dorsal satellite antenna.

The Israeli source who pointed us to the image said the dorsal antenna is retractable, but we are not sure it can be extended; it could be a fixed satellite antenna used for ISTAR, SIGINT, communications relay.