Iran-Israel Shadow Wars: Drone Retaliation

Iran-Israel Shadow Wars: Drone Retaliation
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Early Monday morning, February 14, there were reports of a fire at a drone base operated by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) in the Mahidasht district of Kermanshah. The incident occurred in storage where there were flammable materials and motor oil, according to a statement released after the event however, the statement did not indicate the cause of the fire. Israeli-linked sources stated a few days after the incident that the incident in Kermanshah was not an ordinary fire, the incident originated at the Iranian Army's Ground Forces Command, Western Region 4th Drone Battalion. It occurred because the Israeli foreign intelligence agency, MOSSAD, launched a cruise missile or kamikaze drone strike on a base belonging to the Drone Battalion.

Following the incident, current satellite images were released, validating those arguments, and according to those images, the roof of the base was somehow damaged on a large scale. Despite the fact that the arguments about the incident are based on unconfirmed information at this point, the events surrounding the fire case mentioned above, as well as current satellite images, strengthen the argument that Israel launched a strike on the drone base in Kermanshah. There are also some reports that similar to the Shahed-136 kamikaze drone, which is said to be cruising from Iraq to Israel immediately after the suspicious fire in Kermanshah and is known to be actively used by Iranian-backed militias, was shot down by international coalition forces in Erbil. This development was important because it is suggested by various sources that the aforementioned drones shot down in Erbil were stationed at the base in Kermanshah, near the Iraqi border, where the fire or explosion occurred, using by the IRGC.

Moreover, on Friday, February 18, another significant incident related to this development was the infiltration of a Hezbollah reconnaissance drone into Israeli airspace. Hezbollah's relatively small reconnaissance and surveillance UAV, which took off from Lebanon, was able to cruise about 70 km through Israeli airspace, possibly using a path with geographical elevations. Hezbollah was able to return to Lebanon without being shot down despite the fact that the Israeli military stated it had been tracking the drone since it entered the airspace. The drone made a halt in Israeli airspace for 40 minutes, according to the Israeli military. With this development, the assessments of Israeli analysts on the adequacy of air defense have also been largely refuted. Because, according to Israeli analysts, only if a large number of drones attacked Israeli airspace simultaneously the air defense system would be insufficient. However, this infiltration became a concrete example of how even a single small air platform neutralized the air defense system. Meanwhile, Israeli media said that a similar infiltration attempt took place on Thursday, and the drone involved in the infiltration was shot down using electronic warfare.

The drone's simple structure, using structural materials that provide stealth from radar, the drone's low-altitude tracking, and the cruising route it uses can be considered important factors that facilitate Hezbollah's infiltration into Israeli airspace. At this point, the fact that there are different levels of geographical elevations on the navigational route followed by the drone. The drone cruises its flight at low-altitude restricts the radar vision of the air defense system, which makes it difficult to detect the drone. The fact that the alarm sirens and the Iron Dome are active, immediately followed by the take-off of Israeli warplanes, signals that an aerial threat has been detected. However, the disappearance of the threat from the radar after that indicates that in some way, electronic jamming has been resorted to.

All these developments, beyond the technical details of the infiltration attempt, show that Iran is seeking retaliation against Israel due to the drone activities that took place in Iraq and on the Lebanese Israeli front after the Kermanshah attack on February 14. Considering all these developments, it suggests that the explosion in Kermanshah occurred because of an Israeli attack represents a logical scheme. In other words, Iran is trying to respond to Israel with drones in retaliation for the attack on the IRGC drone base in Kermanshah. However, the infiltration of a Hezbollah-owned drone into Israeli airspace may also have been based on this motivation. Given recent developments, it is thought that drone attack attempts will increase, especially in line with the weakness caused by Hezbollah's infiltration of Israeli airspace by UAV. This situation also has the effect of raising the issue of preemptive Israeli operations against Hezbollah's sensitive capabilities. 

Picture 1: The Attack on Drone Base in Kermanshah

Picture 2: Possible Drone Cruise Route

Picture 3: Possible Type of Reconnaissance and Surveillance Drone Used in an Attempt to Infiltration