New Tech Lets Israel Take Over Hostile Drones, Reuse Them Against Enemy

Over the weekend, the Israeli army said it acted in the Damascus area to foil a drone strike on northern Israel by an Iranian force

A drone used in Syria last year.
Onur Coban/Anadolu Agency/AFP

Anti-drone technology recently developed in Israel can seize control of enemy drones and land them anywhere. Taking control of the drones without causing them damage makes it possible to reuse them and extract any data that the drone collected prior to its interception.  

"The system that we developed can detect hostile drones at a range of up to three and a half kilometers [about 2 miles] and take control of about 200 drones at the same time," Asaf Lebovitz, the product manager of Skylock, one of the Israeli companies that have developed the technology, told Haaretz.

Israel said it carried out an attack in Syria on Saturday to thwart a drone attack on northern Israel by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps' elite Quds Force. The opposition Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported that two members of the Lebanese Hezbollah militia group and one Iranian were killed in the attack. The Israeli army said the Quds Force had been planning to launch a number of drones.

>> Read more: Beirut strike hit vital Iranian device for Hezbollah's missile production ■ 'Israeli' drones that crashed over Beirut may in fact be Iranian

Two months ago, Skylock presented a demonstration of the system's capabilities. "We actually decide on a specific place where we want to take control of the drone," Lebovitz said. "We have the ability to disrupt communications between the drone and its operator, and then to remotely take control of it and land it to check what it's carrying and whom it belongs to," he said.  

Other military firms also supply systems with capacities similar to Skylock's technology. Elbit Systems recently unveiled the ReDrone anti-drone system, which is available in stationary models and as a portable system that soldiers can carry in the field. Elbit said its system is unique in its ability to take control simultaneously of a number of drones and land them without damaging them, a key capability if the drones are booby-trapped, the company said.

Lebanese security forces at the site where a drone fell in Beirut.
Bilal Hussein/AP

It appears, based on remarks by army spokesman Ronen Menelis over the weekend, that two terrorist attacks attempted by the Iranian team have been foiled, including one two weeks ago.

The army said it had thwarted one attack but didn't mention how. The second attack hit a complex in the Damascus area where weapons were being stored.

That was immediately followed by a statement from Hezbollah accusing Israel of responsibility for two drones that blew up in Dahiyyeh, a Shi'ite neighborhood of Beirut and a Hezbollah stronghold. The drone strike damaged a component of Hezbollah's efforts to improve the accuracy of missiles in the Shi'ite group's arsenal.