Iran claims Israel used a remote-controlled weapon to kill the country’s top nuclear scientist, Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, on Friday.
The country’s security chief Ali Shamkhani said the attackers had “used electronic equipment” when Fakhrizadeh’s car came under fire on the east of the capital Tehran.
In what seems to be a Hollywood-style killing, the attack seems to have been carried out using either a remote-controlled gun or weapons “controlled by satellite”, BBC reported quoting the Iranian media. Shamkhani also claimed that no actual human assassins were involved.
His assertion, experts say, makes sense. In fact, Israel has tested many such weapons, which can be fired using a remotely controlled “joystick,” with the actual gun turret installed miles away from the target.
It was in July this year that an Israeli company claimed to have developed a man-portable gun turret with the capability to scan for and lock on to targets automatically, which can be fired using a wireless, tablet-like device by a remote operator.
Shamkhani said the country had made the necessary improvements for Fakhrizadeh’s protection team, but this time, the “enemy” used a completely new, “professional and specialized style.” “Unfortunately, they (attackers) managed to realize their malicious objectives and assassinated him after 20 years,” he added.
“The operation was a very complicated one. It took place with the employment of electronic equipment. No person (assassin) was present at the scene,” he told reporters on the sidelines of the burial of the late Iranian scientist on Monday.
The experts are drawing parallels to a scene in the 1997 action movie The Jackal, to describe the assassination. The hitman played by Bruce Willis, in the movie, attempts to assassinate the First Lady of the United States using a remote-controlled heavy machine gun concealed inside a minivan.
According to Shamkhani’s statement and the news reports from the Iranian outlets, the Iranian nuclear scientist was on the way to spend the weekend in Absard with his wife when the attack took place. The couple was traveling in a black Nissan sedan, which was reportedly part of a four-vehicle convoy.
It’s when the convoy made a turn that an electronically-controlled gun turret located inside a parked blue Nissan pickup truck is said to have fired indiscriminately at the vehicle carrying Fakhrizadeh and his wife. The Iranian media says the scientist got out after the car stopped, not realizing the sounds he heard were actually gunfire.
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According to the Fars news agency, the bullets from the remote gun then hit Fakhrizadeh on the side and back. His bodyguard is said to have jumped on top of him to cover him, leaving him wounded. The pickup truck was reported to have exploded soon after the “mission”.
Some reports say the gun may have been controlled through a satellite, with the Iranian authorities claiming to have recovered the weapon, which had the logo and specifications of the Israeli military industry. However, the images of the remote gun turret were not released to the media.
Israel has developed weapons with a similar mode of operation, with one company Smart Shooter in July announcing its newest addition to its SMASH product family, called the SMASH Hopper, which is a Light Remote-Controlled Weapon Station (LRCWS).
According to its website, the SMASH Hopper provides operators with increased lethality by presenting the best accuracy level in its weight class. The system provides a modular and light-weight solution with ‘one shot, one hit’ accuracy, while the operator controls the system from a safe distance.
The weapon is capable of precisely engaging ground targets. The gun features a safe trigger mechanism, a mounting solution, and a ruggedized remote-control unit, providing a pan–and–tilt capability for the weapon system that can be controlled via cable or wireless connectivity.
The weapons experts don’t deny the possibility of the Israeli perpetrators using a remotely-operated turret, such as SMASH Hopper, in the pickup truck from somewhere nearby. The weapon, they say, could have been operated semi-autonomously, which would need less manual intervention.
The weapons, once a product of imagination, are being developed and increasingly deployed with the armies around the world. One such example was the laser weapon featured in the Star Wars movies, which the US Navy now uses as the ‘directed energy weapons’ that can destroy targets in the blink of an eye.
The Israeli defense companies are best suited to develop and build such kind of weapons, and it will be very difficult for Iran to defeat the country’s armed forces possessing such cutting-edge military equipment.