The Israel Air Force's initial probe into the circumstances of a Hezbollah drone penetrating Israeli airspace has revealed that the Iranian-made aircraft spent about five minutes in the air over Israel.
The 2.9 meter-long aircraft had a three-meter wingspan and noisily flies at about 120 knots, meaning around 200 kilometers per hour, about 1,000 feet above ground. It came in over Rosh Hanikra and reached Nahariya, turning west over the sea and then north back toward Lebanon, where it crashed into the sea off the Lebanese coast.
It had a very small radar footprint, which is probably why it was missed by Israeli air defenses. Indeed, the first report of the plane came from an IDF officer on the ground who noticed the drone and called in to his office to report it. The reason for the radar defense failure was that the system is designed to be on the lookout for larger objects - like a terrorist flying a glider.
The IDF believes the flight was mostly meant as a propaganda coup, "proving" that Hezbollah could create "a new equation" for Hezbollah opposite Israel, as a counterweight to Israeli intelligence flights over Lebanon.
Gideon Alon adds:
The Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee is planning to discuss the drone affair today, and has invited Chief of Staff Moshe Ya'alon to answer a number of questions. MK Ran Cohen (Yahad) plans to ask how the drone managed to penetrate Israeli air space and take photographs. Cohen said that two weeks ago, during a visit by the committee to a military drone base, he asked whether such technology could fall into enemy hands and was told there was "no chance."