August 8, 2006

Hizballah Air Force Reconnaissance Unit

On August 7, an Israeli air force F-16 intercepted and downed a Hizballah drone over the Mediterranean. The drone, launched from southern Lebanon, is an Iranian-made Mirsad-1 system provided to Hizballah as early as 2004. Hizballah has flown drones over Israel on at least two prior occasions.

The drones can be configured to carry cameras or a high-explosive warhead. According to the Israel Defense Force website, this particular drone was not armed. These drones are manufactured in Iran, despite claims by Hizballah leader Hasan Nasrallah to the contrary. The training on the use of these systems most likely took place in Iran - this type of activity in the Biqa' Valey would have been detected by the Iranians. Many Hizballah fighters were trained in Iran - it's only a short drive to Damascus and a short flight to Iran.

What I found most interesting was the fin flash on the tails of the aircraft (see image to right). Inside the red circle is the familiar yellow emblem of Hizballah - the green Arabic writing spells out Hizballah - the hand holding the rifle is the first letter of "Allah." The red Arabic text above the green emblem is the slogan "Hizballah will be the victors." The red text below reads, "Islamic Resistance in Lebanon." In the red circle above the yellow, the white text reads, "Air Force - Reconnaissance Unit."

Hizballah now claims to have an air force, with at least a reconnaissance unit. The question remains, what other units does it possess? It does not appear that this is an organization prepared to disarm as part of its obligations under United Nations Security Council 1559.

For more images and video clips, see the Hebrew-language site HNN.