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.
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).