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Iran Downs Azeri Israeli-Made Drone Over Natanz Nuclear Site

Iran announced a few days ago that it had shot down an Israeli Hermes 450 drone near its Natanz nuclear site. At first, Israeli officials were tight-lipped. They refused to offer any comment to Yossi Melman’s or my own Israeli source.

israel made azeri drone

Israeli-made drone featured in Azeri military parade

That led some Israeli analysts to be skeptical of the Iranian claim, because a Hermes drone does not have the range to fly from Israel to Iran. Either it would have to have been refueled in flight, been based in a country neighboring Iran, or flown by such a country itself.

Then in the past 24 hours, Walla wrote that an Israeli source conceded that the drone was Israeli-made.  But that it was operated by a “foreign country.”  Now, after lips have been loosened, my Israeli source reports that the drone was one purchased by Azerbaijan from Israel. Haaretz published (Hebrew) a similar story shortly after my source passed his information to me. Turns out, the skeptics were wrong.

This is a highly plausible scenario since Azerbaijan signed a multi-billion dollar arms deal with Israel, of which this drone was part. It’s also entirely conceivable that though the Azeris owned the drone, Israelis personnel were either operating it or closely coordinating the intelligence data it collected with the Azeris. It’s well-known that both Israeli and Iranian agents operate almost openly inside the country in an almost Wild-West environment.

This is the third enemy drone Iran downed within its airspace. It shot one down and America’s most sophisticated Predator drone crashed inside the country due to a technical error (or Iranian jamming).

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{ 24 comments… add one }
  • nikkor1 August 26, 2014, 12:55 AM

    are your source doesn’t aware to the fact, that Hermes 450 has 300 km operational range, and the distance from closest azery point to Natanz is 500 km?

    • Oui August 26, 2014, 5:48 AM

      Elbit Systems has the Hermes 450LE Long Endurance version up to 30 hours flight time. The range of 300km is for a mobile radar tracking station. In Gaza, two modifications of the Hermes 450 were witnessed two fuel tanks mounted on underwing pods and most interesting a version with a dorsal satellite antenna. Making the range of the 450 equivalent to the Hermes 900, stated as “unlimited.” The U.S. Navy has tested UAVs launched from their aircraft carriers and perhaps guided by an AWACS. Be a litle innovative.

      Maritime Claims: Iran’s territorial sea extends 12 nautical miles and its contiguous zone, 24 nautical miles. See also the possibility flying from Sitalchay Military Airbase over international waters of the Caspian Sea. and turning south-east over Iranian territory towards Natanz.

      • nikkor1 August 26, 2014, 6:05 AM

        may be you r right, but, there is still little problem: the downed drone doesn’t resembles Hermes 450 in any way

        • Oui August 26, 2014, 7:24 AM

          I may agree with you, just debris brought together for a PR moment of the IRGC. Similar forum discussion about an incident some years ago. I was looking for distinctive marks front wheel, mount for two wheels, wing mounted above or on fuselage, engine with propeller. Problem is, the construction of the Hermes 450 has evolved throughout the years and the modifications have changed these marks.

          Hermes 180
          Wingspan 6 m
          Fuselage length 3.47 m

          Hermes 450
          Wingspan 10.5 m
          Fuselage length 6.1 m

          • nikkor1 August 26, 2014, 7:42 AM

            You know, it seems that it’s neither Hermes 180, neither Hermes 450.
            See this discussion here- someone point out to the interesting finding: both Hermes has
            top access hatch on the front upper part of the fuselage.
            The drone on Iranian pictures doesn’t has such hatch at all

            http://www.militaryphotos.net/forums/showthread.php?240466-Iran-Downs-Israeli-Spy-Drone-near-Natanz-Nuclear-Site/page8

            I think it’s some Iranian mock-up has been made specially for this propaganda opportunity: to remember to the Arabs that Iran stand with Palestinians in their difficult times.

          • Oui August 26, 2014, 11:16 AM

            Someone claimed it resembled Iran’s own Shahed 129 UAV, not so either.

            I think you got it right, it’s a mock-up of a drone similar to the one crashed in Armenia in 2012. It’s a shut case. This article explains it along those lines.

            “And, above all, the shape of the aircraft does not resemble that of a Hermes 180 or 450. Indeed, the drone is identical to a mysterious drone shot down in 2011 by Armenian forces in the disputed territory of Nagorno Karabakh. At that time Azerbaijan denied the unmanned aircraft belonged to Baku.”

            IMO the showcase of a “drone” in the parade to celebrate the event, is a full mock-up, not the real UAV.

  • nikkor1 August 26, 2014, 2:33 AM

    After some very quick goggling, I’m going to believe, that Iranians cooked additional fake story.
    The wreckage they displaced doesn’t belonging to Hermes 450, but to Hermes 180 (not so famous short range drone), that definitely could not been downed over Natanz: it has 100 km range only!
    Look on the pictures of Hermes 180: it has a small hole in the nose and simple fixed pitch wooden propeller.
    Exactly as on the pictures shown us by Iranians.
    Contrary to variable pitch carbon fiber propeller and hole absence in the fuselage nose of Hermes 450!
    So, it’s seems to me, that Iranians just drugged the remains of Hermes 180 to the Natanz and filmed it.
    How stupid!

    • Trying to make the maths add up August 26, 2014, 3:43 AM

      Hmmm. The Azeris also have Five (or is that now four?) IAI Heron-1, which is claimed to have a 50+ hour endurance at 80km an hour.

      Doing the sums…..

    • Oui August 26, 2014, 4:42 AM

      Definitely not the Elbit 180, check the tail section.

      • nikkor1 August 26, 2014, 5:35 AM

        On the downed drone’s pictures the tail section is missing, so it’s nothing wrong with tail section :-)
        If you refer to the picture of the drone at Armenian military parade: this is unrecognizable UAV.
        I many forums you can find numerous discussion about origin of this drone: nobody knows what it is.

  • Oui August 26, 2014, 4:05 AM

    Original AP story [Yr link Feb. 26, 2012] and the Washington Post article have been deleted on Internet. Could only find fingerprints on forum discussions … strange. Message reads:

    404 – Not Found
    The page that you requested is not available.

    Even WayBackMachine archive doesn’t have the page. A bit of creative searching found this WaPo copy. The pride of a nation!

    In March 2012, the periodical Foreign Policy announced that the Israeli Air Force might be planning to employ the Sitalchay Military Airbase, found as of the Iranian borderline, for air hits opposed to the atomic programme of Iran, Recall the leaked info from a White House to reign in any Netanyahu adventure.

  • Arie Brand August 26, 2014, 5:18 AM

    What “additional fake story” Nikor1. The report s on the murder of the Iranian nuclear scientists? Or the story of the Stuxnet-virus that put some of Iran’s nuclear centrifuges out of control? I appreciate you not believing these because it is of course unbelievable that “the only democracy in the Middle East” resorts to such lawless measures. Unfortunately these stories are pretty generally accepted as being true.

    And the “stupidity” of the display of these UAV remains is apparently not as obvious to every one as it seems to be to you. Haaretz has this:

    “While a senior Israel Air Force officer declined to comment on the Iranian report, a specialist in arms and aerial vehicles told Haaretz, after looking at the images, that the device looks like a kind of UAV used by the Israeli military.”
    What is stupid, and I hope that you agree, is that the Netanyahu clique still seems to be pushing for war with Iran instead of diplomacy. Earlier this year Israel tried very hard via AIPAC to undo Obama’s efforts to negotiate instead of “sending the marines”by pushing through the Menendez-Kirk Bill for renewed sanctions against Iran. The White House was uncommonly resistant and it all ended in a defeat for AIPAC and the Netanyahu gang. Hallelujah.

    • nikkor1 August 27, 2014, 12:01 AM

      It’s indeed fake story, and if you, Arie, still can’t see this you better change your lenses

  • The Rahnameh August 26, 2014, 8:21 AM

    Le Sigh. Of course, the seeds of doubt are sown to every truth. Every truth is a nail that must be hammered by the Hasbara crew that can’t accept realities that have already passed them by. There is absolutely no reason to think that the Iranians would have any motivation in cooking up a fake story like this. There is also no reason to think that this drone came from the North.

    I’m enjoying the laymen analyses here of the UAV’s wreckage, however, above, especially by the naysayer. It shows that people will go to many lengths to appear to be technical experts based on publicized specs that have no bearing at all.

    It’s an embarrassing loss for the Israeli military. Iran is not Gaza. Iran can decimate all of Israel in less than 30 minutes using conventional weapons alone. Get real and stop poking the hornet’s nest. Shouldn’t Israel be focusing on ISIS? ;)

    • Black Canary August 26, 2014, 10:38 AM

      @The Rahn

      ” Iran can decimate all of Israel in less than 30 minutes using conventional weapons alone.”

      You’d better hope that the Iran does that soon, because if the Arrow anti-ballistic missile system is as effective as the Iran Dome, Iran is going to be SOL.

  • Ari Greenfield August 26, 2014, 10:31 AM

    Quick clarification: In the last paragraph where you refer to America’s most advanced drone being lost on Iran, I believe you are referring to the RQ-170 Sentinel drone, not the MQ-1 Predator drone.

  • Ari Greenfield August 26, 2014, 12:08 PM

    Quick point of clarification in your final paragraph- I believe you are referring to the RQ-170 Sentinel drone as America’s most advanced drone that was lost over Iran in 2011 and not the MQ-1 Predator drone.

  • nikkor1 August 26, 2014, 11:08 PM

    So, what we have so far:

    1. not Israeli-made drone, and probably not flying Frankenstein style mock-up
    2. not Israeli operated (or by proxy)
    3. can’t be flown from any territory outside Iran and been downed over Natanz
    4, and last but not least: the high ranking Israeli source….

    • Richard Silverstein August 26, 2014, 11:32 PM

      @ nikkor1: You have nothing and none of the points you list is true. I do not take kindly to false claims and this is a comment rule violation. I warn you. Next time you will be moderated.

    • Well, actually, no..... August 27, 2014, 3:37 AM

      Err, no, all you have is evidence that the debris that was shown in that video doesn’t look like a match to a Hermes 450.

      But, hey, why is it necessarily true that the wreckage that the Iranians are showing really is the wreckage from the drone that they shot down?

      Sure, the Iranians SAY that this is the case, but maybe they are just messing with your mind.

      As in: you can claim that the video doesn’t show the wreckage of the drone that was shot down.

      Fine, go ahead.

      But does that “prove” that the Iranians didn’t shoot down an Israeli-built drone?

      Answer: No, not necessarily. After all, the Iranians *do* appear to enjoy messing with the brain of Zionists.

  • nikkor1 August 27, 2014, 12:11 AM

    Chap nit Richard!
    At list about #1 and #3 I have numerous sources from the folks closely related to the aviation/reconnaissance business
    The rest are my conclusions, that based on straight logic can be easily deduced from the point above.

  • Keep it simple August 27, 2014, 4:20 AM

    Start from an assumption: the Iranians are telling the truth – they shot down a drone near Natanz.

    From there ask this question: do the Azerbaijanis possess a drone that can fly to Natanz?

    Answer: Why yes. Yes, they do. They have five IAI Heron drones.

    Conclusion: the Iranians shot down an Israeli-built Heron drone that was flying from Azerbaijan towards Natanz.

    Q: So what about that video that was released by the Iranians?
    A: Well, what about it? They needed something to show on PressTV, and so……

    After all, how often do the western Main Stream Press pull out “file footage” when they have nothing else to show?

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