Israel ‘Requests’ Washington For Military Assistance As Massive Conflict Unfolds In The Tumultuous Region – Reports

Israel has reportedly asked the US to replenish its arsenal of interceptor missiles for the Iron Dome defense system besides other ammunition, the Washington Post reported, citing sources.

2000 Made-In-China, AI-Enabled UAVs Ready To ‘Harass’ Russian Military As Ukraine Acquires Deadly Drones

Earlier, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in an interview with CNN that Washington was considering Israeli requests for military assistance for the operation in the Gaza Strip.

“Israeli officials have made several specific requests to Washington … including replenishment of Iron Dome interceptor missiles, small diameter bombs, machine gun ammunition, and increased cooperation in intelligence sharing related to potential military activity in southern Lebanon “, the publication quotes informed sources.

Earlier, Israel was hit by a massive rocket attack from the Gaza Strip. Hamas fighters then entered the border areas in southern Israel. The military wing of the Palestinian movement announced Operation Al-Aqsa Flood against Israel.

The Israel Defense Forces then announced the launch of Operation Iron Swords against Hamas in the Gaza Strip. In an address to the nation, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that the country was in a state of war and that he had ordered a widespread mobilization of reserves.

According to the latest reports, the death toll in Israel has reached 700. According to the latest data from the Palestinian Ministry of Health, the death toll due to Israeli strikes on the Gaza Strip has increased to 400. Al-Qassam Brigades (the military wing of Hamas) said they had captured dozens of Israeli soldiers and officers.

Iron Dome
File Image: Iron Dome

Iran Levels-Up Drone Tech: Earlier Report

Iran has increased its drone capabilities, successfully surveilling a US warship and shooting down a UAV with air-to-air missiles fired from another drone in an exercise.

Tehran is conducting large-scale drone exercises where suicide drones have hit naval targets, and a drone with airborne electronic warfare (EW) capability has evaded air defenses, with some of the aircraft being enabled by Artificial Intelligence (AI). 

The announcements and publicity material by Iran’s ground forces and the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) come after analyses of the techno-strategic achievements of the Iranian defense industrial base by the EurAsian Times. This Iranian capability challenges technologically superior rivals like Israel and the United States (US) in certain respects. 

This comes amid the Russia-Ukraine war, where both participants have employed drone warfare innovatively, and the concurrent geopolitics, where the traditionally close ties between Moscow and Tehran are further enhanced by defense-industrial cooperation. Iran’s achievements in unmanned military aviation catalyze diplomacy, global commerce, and even the overlapping geopolitical flashpoints in Europe and Far East Asia.    

We Can See You But You Can’t – Iran’s Signal To US Navy

According to a report in Press TV, a US Navy’s Arleigh Burke-class destroyer was watched by the Ababil-5 reconnaissance-strike drone after it took off from the southern Iranian island of Jask.

The American warship was in the “northern part of the body of the water,” which hints towards the location being the Strait of Hormuz, which joins the northern Arabian Sea and the Persian Gulf. 

Footage released from the drone’s electro-optical system shows the ship being recorded from its port side (left) and the stern (front), with the report crediting the UAV’s feature to be undetected by “reconnaissance apparatuses since its body is capable of absorbing radar signals.” 

Arash’s suicide drone taking off from the army’s drone training base towards a sea target

This is not the first time Iranian drones have managed to record seaborne “American military assets.” In April 2021, the IRGC released exact and close footage of an American aircraft carrier captured by drones flying over the Persian Gulf.

Before that, in 2019, the IRGC released footage from the Ababil-3 UAV flying over the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower aircraft carrier in the Persian Gulf.

Operational Reconnaissance During Training Drills

The surveilling of the US vessel came as Tehran was also conducting a countrywide drone drill featuring 200 drones of 12 different types of reconnaissance and combat UAVs. The exercise was held in seven border provinces and four Islamic Republic of Iran Army divisions. 

The massive exercises by the Islamic Republic of Iran Army, Navy, Air Force, and the IRGC have seen the Ababil-2 and the Arash loitering munitions/kamikaze drones hit a target warship; the Kaman-19 EW-capable drone evading several dense air defenses by jamming them and the Karrar drone possibly shooting down another drone by firing air-to-air missiles. 

Posts on X (formerly Twitter) showed a ship holding the Arash and the Ababil-2 kamikaze drone on rail-type launch platforms. The Ababil-2 is seen taking off with a rocket-assisted launch and then hitting the bridge of a target vessel in a massive explosion. 

Another Press TV report quoted Brigadier General Alireza Sheikh, the spokesperson for the exercise, saying the “anti-radar UAV Omid detected the target in the drill” where the Arash kamikaze drone too “successfully annihilated land and sea targets.”  

Drone Kills Drone With Air-to-Air Missile

But the stunning claim remains an “aerial battle” where a “drone targeted another drone,” which head of the Air Defense Force Brig Gen Alireza Sabahifard said was possessed by “only one or two countries.” It did not specify the make of the drone that fired the missile, the target, or the missile used in the test. 

But photos and a video from a drone command center doing the rounds on the internet hint towards the firing drone being the Karrar. A video from inside a command center showed optical tracking footage, possibly from the ground, of a missile striking a UAV, presumably fired from the Karrar.

Another larger command center shows jubilation among the uniformed military and civilian staff inside as the missile hits the drone. Sheikh, too said it was the “Karrar (that) carried out interception and destruction tasks on the first day of the drill.”

Another picture showed the Karrar on launchers with a canister in its belly, most likely carrying the air-to-air missile. The Karrar is then photographed being launched with the booster rocket, which then falls off. The significant target drone, used to train air defense radar, missile, and gun crews, has been regularly featured in Iranian military drills since 2010 and photographed with a Mark 82 bomb. 

But it was in April 2017 that it was photographed with a Shahab Saqib anti-air missile in its underbelly that laid the foundation for its anti-air role. In November 2020, Iran used the “bomber drone” for the “first time in history” when it released a 500-pound (227 kg) unguided drop bomb on a ground target during an exercise. 

A clearer and up close image of a Karrar UAV on a launcher with a canister on its belly, that is possibly carrying the Shahab Saqib AAM

The Shahab Saqib was developed to intercept low-altitude targets and could also be fired from the ground-based Ya-Zahra and Herz-9 AD systems. These are Iranian copies of the Chinese HQ-7 system. Given this background, it was only a matter of time before the Karrar was used for an air-to-air role. 

AI & Autonomous Operation

All the above drone operations took place under the broad rubric of AI and autonomous, coordinated swarm flights, marking a holy grail in drone technology, which even Western countries are struggling with. Sheikh said the drones were flying a “pre-planned flight scenario (taking off from) various ground, underground, and sea bases to carry out unprecedented operations.” 

“The ability of mass flights using artificial intelligence is one of the innovative measures in the Islamic Republic of Iran Army’s operation of drones,” he said. The IRGC commander, Major General Hossein Salami, shed more light on the AI in the recent drills, saying it “enabled the drones to strike any part of a vessel…while cruising at a distance of thousands of miles away.”    

Sheikh also said the exercise featured unveiling the Kaman-19 drone with air-based electronic warfare capability. “Arash and Karrar drones are expected to fly from different parts of the country and land at a specific location and time as part of tests to gauge their ability to bypass electronic warfare nets and defense barriers,” he said.