The German army has operated three Israeli-leased Heron drones in Afghanistan for reconnaissance purposes. Two of the drones crashed in 2010. One, on its first flight, when it crashed into a military transport plane on landing. The second drone had engine failure. The most recent drone failure occurred (Google translation from German) at Mazar i Sharif. This time the UAV crashed into a mountain. Because the area was so remote, a U.S. F-16 was dispatched to destroy the vehicle so that it didn’t fall into enemy hands.
The overall value of the lease with Israel Aircraft Industries, maker of the Heron, was over $150-million; and the value of the lost drone was about $7.5-million.
My Israeli source reports that the most recent loss was the result of the navigation system being hacked. He tells me hacking is “strongly suspected” as the cause. He doesn’t know who hacked the controls, but it would seem most likely to be the Taliban or whatever insurgent forces operate in northern Afghanistan. The expertise for hacking the Israeli drones appears most likely to derive from Iran. Though that country has been much more involved in affairs in Iraq than Afghanistan, Iran does share a border with northwestern Afghanistan. It is conceivable that the technical know-how for the hack was conveyed to a Taliban group in the north of the country (where Mazar i Sharif is located).Buffer