Drones – Latest News, Features & Expert Opinion

  • Israeli Army Says Downs Drone Arriving From Lebanon

    The Israeli army said it had shot down a drone overnight Thursday into Friday that came from Lebanon, a border on heightened military alert due to recent skirmishes.

    Israeli troops overnight “identified a drone which infiltrated into Israeli airspace in the Mount Hermon area, along the Israeli side of the Blue Line” demarcating the Jewish state and Lebanon, the army said.

    “The drone was monitored and downed,” it said, adding Israeli troops were conducting searches in the area.

    Mount Hermon is a strategic and fortified outpost at the crossroads between Israel, Lebanon, and Syria.

    An Israeli military official told AFP that the drone had arrived from Lebanon.

    The army’s statement said that troops were on “elevated preparedness in the North and will not tolerate any violation of Israeli sovereignty.”

    It did not disclose the type of drone, its size, or who it suspected of dispatching it.

    Israel’s army has reinforced its northern frontiers with Lebanon and Syria in recent weeks, so as to ready itself for “diverse” potential enemy actions.

    The Jewish state late last month said it had repelled an attempt by Hezbollah fighters to penetrate the border, but the Shiite Lebanese group denied any involvement in the incident.

    That border clash came a week after an alleged Israeli missile attack hit positions of Syrian regime forces and their allies south of Damascus, killing five.

    On Thursday night, the Israeli army indicated that it would maintain its heightened level of alert on the Lebanon frontier.

  • Israel’s German Heron TP UAV Completes First Test Flight

    German Heron TP UAV has completed its first successful flight in Israel ahead of its delivery to the German army, Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) said in a statement.

    It said the UAV was modified according to the needs and requirements of the German Ministry of Defense as part of a joint program between UAV Executive Office in the Directorate of Defense Research and Development (DDR&D), of the Israel Ministry of Defense (IMoD), Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI), and Airbus DS Airborne Solutions, an Airbus Group company.

    “IAI is pleased to mark this important milestone in the Heron TP project for Germany. We thank our partners in the Ministry of Defense and Airbus Group, for their cooperation in this project – a result of which we are going to provide the German Air Force with a system tailored to its operational needs and requirements,” Moshe Levy, IAI Executive VP and GM of the Military Aircraft Group said.

    Germany and Israel signed an agreement in 2018 for the lease of a number of UAVs as well as the maintenance and training services. Israeli drone specialists will also train German Air Force personnel in an IAF base in central Israel.

    IAI said the German Heron TP UAV is a medium-altitude, long-endurance, and multi-mission aircraft with a variety of payloads. It is based on the Israeli “Eitan” UAV, which is in operational use in the Israel Air Force.

  • Israeli Drone Falls in Lebanese Territory: Army

    The Israeli army said Sunday one of its drones had come down in Lebanese territory, following a reinforcement of its presence at its northern frontier near Lebanon.

    The drone fell “during IDF operational activity” along the border, the army said in a statement. “There is no risk of breach of information.”

    Israel regularly deploys drones over Lebanon, in particular to monitor the movements of pro-Iran armed group Hezbollah, an arch-enemy of the Jewish state and a heavyweight in Lebanese politics.

    During a visit on Sunday to a military base near the border, Israeli Defence Minister Benny Gantz said that “Lebanon and Syria are responsible for what happens on and from their territory.”

    “We are not trying to escalate the situation, but whoever wants to test us will see a very strong reaction,” Gantz warned, according to a statement from his office.

    Israel is technically at war with neighboring Lebanon and Syria, and has carried out hundreds of strikes on Syrian soil to prevent Iran, which backs Hezbollah and the Damascus regime, from gaining a foothold there.

    Israel this week reinforced its troop presence on its northern border in what several Israeli media outlets said was a response to an increased threat from Hezbollah.

    On Monday, five Iran-backed fighters were killed in an Israeli missile strike south of the Syrian capital Damascus, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

    Hezbollah said one of its fighters was also among the dead.

    Israel announced initial reinforcements to the north on Thursday and additional measures on Friday.

    Hours later it struck military targets in southern Syria in retaliation for earlier “munitions” fire towards Israel from inside Syria.

    The army said that in ordering the redeployment it had “elevated its readiness against various potential enemy actions.”

  • US Awards Four Defense Firms Contract to Build AI-Powered Skyborg Drone

    The Pentagon has awarded Boeing Co., St. Louis, Missouri, General Atomics Aeronautical Systems Inc., Poway, California, Kratos Unmanned Aerial Systems Inc., Oklahoma City, Oklahoma and Northrop Grumman Systems Corp., Palmdale, California each indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity contracts with a shared ceiling of $400,000,000 for all subsequent competitively selected delivery orders in support of the Skyborg Vanguard Program, the army’s AI-powered drones.

    Pentagon said Skyborg is an autonomous attritable aircraft “capable of achieving a diverse set of missions to generate massed combat power; delivering a future Air Force which can deter, blunt and defeat peer adversaries.”

    It said the Skyborg prototyping, experimentation and autonomy development contract will be used to deliver missionized prototypes in support of operational experimentation and develop the first Skyborg air platform with modular hardware and software payloads that will incorporate the Skyborg autonomy core system and enable manned/unmanned teaming.

    The program is expected to be completed by July 2026.

  • Trump Allows Defense Firms To Sell More Armed Drones to Foreign Armies

    The Trump administration moved Friday to ease controls on exports of armed drones, saying that allies need US technology and that other countries outside of a non-proliferation pact were taking over the market.

    The White House announced that President Donald Trump had approved a move to diverge partly from the 1987 Missile Technology Control Regime, in which 35 countries agreed to restrict the sales of unmanned weapons delivery systems.

    The MTCR was aimed at controlling the spread of missiles that could deliver large payloads like nuclear weapons.

    But it also covered armed drones, at the time not a major component of armed conflict as they are now.

    The change ordered by Trump will reclassify armed drones from a technology whose export is severely restricted to a category that can be considered on a case-by-case basis.

    The drones in the category must have a maximum airspeed of fewer than 800 kilometers per hour, which will allow sales of the Reaper and Predator drones used by the US military, as well as others made by US defense manufacturers.

    “The MTCR’s standards are more than three decades old,” the White House said in a statement.

    “Not only do these outdated standards give an unfair advantage to countries outside of the MTCR and hurt United States industry, they also hinder our deterrence capability abroad by handicapping our partners and allies with subpar technology.”

    The White House statement said two years of talks had failed to reform the MTCR.

    The move has worried arms control advocates who say the US sale of advanced drones to more countries could fuel the global arms race.

    “The Trump administration has once again weakened international export controls on the export of lethal drones,” said Senator Bob Menendez in a statement.

    “This reckless decision makes it more likely that we will export some of our most deadly weaponry to human rights abusers across the world,” he said.

  • Israeli Missile Strike Kills 5 Fighters In Syria: Monitor

    Five Iran-backed fighters were killed in an Israeli missile strike south of the Syrian capital, a Britain-based war monitor said on Tuesday.

    The missile attack on Monday night hit weapons depots and military positions belonging to Syrian regime forces and Iran-backed militia fighters south of Damascus, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

    The attack wounded at least seven Syrian troops, according to the official SANA news agency, which said the missiles were launched by warplanes over the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights.

    The five killed were all non-Syrian paramilitary fighters, according to the Observatory.

    It added that 11 combatants were wounded in total – four non-Syrian fighters and seven Syrian troops, of which two were in critical condition.

    A military spokesman in Israel told AFP that its army “does not comment on foreign (media) reports”.

    Israel has launched hundreds of strikes in Syria since the start of the country’s civil war in 2011.

    It has targeted government troops, allied Iranian forces, and fighters from the Lebanese Shiite militant group Hezbollah, saying its goal is to end Tehran’s military presence in Syria.

    It rarely confirms details of its operations in Syria but says Iran’s presence in support of the regime is a threat and that Israel will keep up strikes.

    The nine-year-old conflict in Syria has killed more than 380,000 people and displaced more than half of the country’s pre-war population.

  • Iran Executes Man Convicted of Spying for CIA, Mossad

    Iran on Monday executed a former translator convicted of spying for the US and Israel, including helping to locate a top Iranian general killed later by the Americans, the judiciary said.

    The killing of Major General Qassem Soleimani in a US drone strike near Baghdad airport in January brought decades-old arch-enemies Iran and the United States to the brink of conflict.

    The judiciary’s Mizan Online website said Mahmoud Mousavi Majd‘s death “sentence was carried out on Monday morning over the charge of espionage so that the case of his betrayal to his country will be closed forever.”

    Its spokesman said earlier this month that Majd had been sentenced to death for spying on “various security fields, especially the armed forces and the Quds Force and the whereabouts and movements of martyr General Qassem Soleimani.”

    Majd had been found guilty of receiving large sums of money from both the US Central Intelligence Agency and Israel’s Mossad, said the spokesman Gholamhossein Esmaili.

    Soleimani headed the Quds Force, the foreign operations arm of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps.

    Iran retaliated against the United States for his death by firing a volley of ballistic missiles at US troops stationed in Iraq, but US President Donald Trump opted against responding militarily.

    While the attack on the western Iraqi base of Ain Al-Asad left no US soldiers dead, dozens suffered brain trauma.

     ‘American Dollars’

    Majd was arrested about two years ago and was not directly involved in the killing of Soleimani, according to a statement the judiciary issued in June.

    Majd had migrated to Syria in the 1970s with his family and worked as an English and Arabic language translator at a company, Mizan said.

    When war broke out, he chose to stay in the country while his family left.

    “His knowledge of Arabic and familiarity with Syria’s geography made him close to Iranian military advisers and he took responsibilities in groups stationed from Idlib to Latakia,” the site added.

    Majd was not a member of the Revolutionary Guards “but infiltrated many sensitive areas under the cover of being a translator”.

    He was found to have been paid “American dollars to reveal information on adviser convoys, military equipment and communication systems, commanders and their movements, important geographical areas, codes and passwords” until he came under scrutiny and his access was downgraded.

    Iranian state television showed footage of what it said was one of Majd’s CIA handlers, saying the alarm was raised after the interception of communications between the two.

    It also showed Majd in an apparent confession video saying he had received coded messages and reportedly met his handlers with documents, including “photos and identification documents of forces and commanders”.

    Executions and Arrests

    According to the report, he had been planning to also work with Saudi Arabia’s intelligence services before being detained.

    He was arrested in October 2018, Mizan said.

    Iran said last week it had executed another man convicted of spying for the CIA by selling information about Iran’s missile program.

    Reza Asgari had worked at the defense ministry’s aerospace division for years but retired four years ago, after which he sold “information he had regarding our missiles” to the CIA in exchange for large sums of money.

    Iran in February handed down a similar sentence for Amir Rahimpour, another man convicted of spying for the US and conspiring to sell information on Iran’s nuclear program.

    Tehran announced in December it had arrested eight people “linked to the CIA” and involved in nationwide street protests that erupted the previous month over a surprise petrol price hike.

    It also said in July 2019 that it had dismantled a CIA spy ring, arrested 17 suspects between March 2018 and March 2019 and sentenced some of them to death.

    Trump at the time dismissed the claim as “totally false.”

  • French FM Urges Iraq to Keep Away from Regional Tensions

    French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian urged Baghdad on Thursday to “dissociate” itself from boiling regional tensions, hinting at dissatisfaction with unilateral Iranian and American strikes on Iraqi territory.

    Iraq has been caught for years in the power struggle between its two allies Washington and Tehran but has walked an increasingly fine line since 2018, when the US began a “maximum pressure” campaign against Iran.

    In January, a US drone strike on Baghdad killed top Iranian and Iraqi officials, and Tehran retaliated with strikes against American troops based in western Iraq. 

    Baghdad “should dissociate itself from regional tensions,” Le Drian warned after meeting with his Iraqi counterpart Fuad Hussein.

    France has been a top member of the US-led coalition fighting the Islamic State group, which Iraq declared defeated in late 2017 after three years of warfare. 

    “The world should not drop its guard against the Islamic State group,” Le Drian said. “The coalition’s aim at its core is to fight the Islamic State, and it should for no reason be derailed from this central mission,” he added. 

    His comments appeared to hint at widespread frustration among western diplomats at Washington’s strikes against Iran-backed armed groups in Iraq.

    They fear that these attacks would prompt a backlash against the coalition as a whole, not just US soldiers.

    Following the US killing of Iranian general Qasem Soleimani and Iraqi commander Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis in January, Iraq’s parliament voted to oust all foreign troops.

    Le Drian is the first western diplomat to visit Baghdad since Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhemi took office in May, although he has traveled to Iraq on many occasions.

    He is expected to meet Kadhemi and Iraqi President Barham Saleh on his one-day visit. 

    He said France “backed (Kadhemi’s) first decisions,” including efforts to fight government corruption and rein in rogue groups firing rockets at foreign troops and diplomats.

    France will facilitate $1.1 billion for “major projects in construction, transportation, energy, and water,” Le Drian announced.

    Iraq’s public infrastructure has been worn down by years of warfare and poor investment, but low oil prices have forced it to cut state spending on improving services. 

  • Nine Soldiers Dead in New Fighting on Armenia-Azerbaijan Border

    At least nine soldiers were killed Tuesday as fighting broke out between Azerbaijan and Armenia for a third day despite international calls for restraint.

    The fighting between the arch-foes in the South Caucasus since Sunday has been the heaviest in years, raising fears of a major flare-up in the volatile region.

    Azerbaijan said seven of its soldiers had died on Tuesday, including two senior officers, while Armenia said two of its troops had been killed, its first reported casualties in the clashes.

    The ex-Soviet republics have been locked in a simmering conflict for decades over Azerbaijan’s southwestern separatist region of Nagorno Karabakh, which was seized by ethnic Armenian separatists in a 1990s war that claimed 30,000 lives.

    Fighting outside the region is rare, but since Sunday the two sides have reported clashes in northern areas along their shared border.

    Increasing Fears of Major Flare-Up

    Azerbaijan’s defense ministry said Armenian forces had attacked its positions in the northern Tovuz region with artillery fire, mortars, and large-caliber machineguns on Tuesday. It said several villages in the area had also come under fire.

    Deputy Defence Minister Karim Valiyev told state television that a major general, a colonel, and five other servicemen had “heroically died in action” on Tuesday. That brings the total number of Azerbaijani soldiers killed since Sunday to 11.

    The Azerbaijani foreign ministry also said that one civilian was killed in an artillery strike on a village in Tovuz region.

    Armenia accused Azerbaijani forces of opening fire again on the northeastern section of the border in its Tavush province, with defense ministry spokesman Sushan Stepanyan saying a major and a captain had been killed.

    The Armenian foreign ministry also accused Azerbaijan of using drones to attack civilian sites in the town of Berd in Tavush.

    “This aggression against the security of the civilian population of Armenia will receive a proportionate response, for which the Azerbaijani side bears full responsibility,” foreign ministry spokeswoman Anna Naghdalyan said in a statement.

    Moscow Urges ‘Restraint’

    The fighting on the northern border — hundreds of kilometers from Nagorno Karabakh — has prompted calls for calm from the United States, European Union, and Russia, while Azerbaijan’s ally Turkey expressed support for Baku.

    “We are deeply concerned about the exchange of fire on the Armenian-Azerbaijani border,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters after the latest clashes on Tuesday, calling on “both sides to show restraint.”

    Mediated by the “Minsk Group” of diplomats from France, Russia, and the United States talks on the Karabakh conflict have been largely stalled since a 1994 ceasefire deal.

    Armenia, which has close political and military ties with Russia, controls the disputed region and has vowed to crush any attempt to take it back.

    But energy-rich Azerbaijan, whose military spending exceeds Armenia’s entire state budget, has repeatedly threatened to restore its control over the territory by force.

    In 2016, deadly clashes in Karabakh nearly spiraled into full-scale war.

  • 7 Children, 2 Women Killed in Yemen Air Strike: UN

    Seven children and two women were killed in an air raid in northwest Yemen, a UN agency said Monday, as Riyadh said it intercepted missiles fired by Yemeni Houthi rebels.

    The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) also said another two women and two children were wounded in Sunday’s raid in Hajjah governorate.

    The province near the capital Sanaa is a battlefront between Houthi rebels and pro-government forces backed by a Saudi-led coalition that provides air support.

    “Initial reports… indicate that on 12 July an airstrike killed seven children and two women in Washhah district of Hajjah governorate,” OCHA said.

    Lisa Grande, the agency’s coordinator for Yemen, said it was “incomprehensible that in the middle of the COVID pandemic, when options for a ceasefire are on the table, civilians continue being killed in Yemen.”

    UN experts have accused both sides in Yemen’s five-year-old conflict of multiple war crimes.

    On Monday, the coalition acknowledged the possibility of civilian casualties during an anti-Houthi operation in Hajjah and said it was being investigated.

    It also said its forces had “intercepted and destroyed seven drones and four ballistic missiles” launched by the Houthis against civilians in Saudi Arabia.

    Yemen’s war between the Iran-backed Houthis and pro-government troops escalated in March 2015 when the coalition intervened against the rebels who control large parts of Yemen including the capital Sanaa.

    Tens of thousands have been killed, an estimated four million displaced and 80 percent of the country’s 29 million people are dependent on aid for survival.

    The coronavirus pandemic is also raging unchecked in the country.