image Photo: Reuters

Israel reveals use of armed UAVs

IDF Brigadier General Neri Horowitz made the first public account of the deployment of armed versions of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs, drones).

By Erin Viner

Speaking to the annual UVID DroneTech conference hosted by Israel Defense magazine in Tel Aviv, Gen. Horowitz said the armed pilot-less planes not only provide Israel with additional firepower, but also allow in a single platform for both the raped detection and attacks on targets, including terrorists attempting to launch rockets from Gaza before they can carry out their nefarious crimes.

This past July, Israeli military censors permitted publication of information about the armed drones and the Chief of Israel’s artillery corps – which runs the drones together with the Israeli Air Force – said that while he could previously only offer hints, “today I can speak of this openly.”

Showing footage of Ukrainian forces using drones to guide shelling of invading Russian troops, he commented, “We have the same application here.”

Israeli intelligence has previously provided evidence that Russia has deployed Iranian-manufactured UAVs against civilians in its ongoing attack on Ukraine.

Gen. Horowitz also disclosed that Islamic jihadi insurgents from Egypt were destroyed in a drone strike after infiltrating Israel’s southern Israel in a hijacked armored vehicle in May 2012.

Israel is currently expanding its UAV forces, whose personnel are 30% female, said the IDF Commander, adding that the artillery corps is replacing its cannon insignia with concentric circles to represent incorporation of the aerial platforms.

At the same conference, Brigadier General Omri Dor, who commands the Palmachim airbase, said UAVs now account for 80% of the IDF operational flight hours.

Manufacturers remain barred from advertising their armed drones them, however, and none were among the models on display at the conference. A sales representative for one of the companies, Elbit Systems Ltd., explained their absence was due to “information security concerns.”

While Economy Minister Orna Barbivai has said Israel’s drone exports are popular abroad – including to Arab states following the 2020 Abraham Accords, she did not specify if the shipments include the armed UAVs.

Military analysts have long believed it has been ‘an open secret for two decades’ that Israel has used drones not just for surveillance but also in strikes within the country, against Palestinian terrorists in Gaza, and even possibly targets as far away as Iran or Sudan.