Thursday, February 10, 2005

Hizbollah Takes Wing

That old, unstoppable Lebanese ingenuity is on show again according to the Atlantic Monthly (sub only, email me if you want any article)

Allah Is My Co-Pilot

In an incident that passed largely unnoticed in the American press, the Lebanese terrorist organization Hizbollah launched an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) late last year, according to a recent report by the National Memorial Institute for the Prevention of Terrorism (MIPT), in Oklahoma. The unmanned aircraft flew from Lebanon into Israel late on the morning of November 7, passed over the northern Israeli town of Nahariya, and then turned west and returned to Lebanese territory, landing in the Mediterranean Sea not far from shore. The UAV spent roughly half an hour in Israel's airspace, undetected by Israeli air force radar but noticed by local residents (the UAV's engine is reportedly "quite noisy"). The next day Hizbollah triumphantly released a grainy twenty-second video of the flight, claiming that the aircraft could fly "deep, deep" into Israel. MIPT estimates that the aircraft can carry a payload of up to eighty-eight pounds, making it an "attractive option" for launching a covert attack with chemical or biological weapons. Israeli sources claim that Hizbollah's UAV is an Iranian-made aircraft, one of eight such planes given to the terrorist group by Iran; Hizbollah, on the other hand, claims it developed the UAV entirely on its own. It may be telling the truth: MIPT notes that "a small group of air model fans (or even someone alone) can build a capable UAV. All necessary equipment and parts are available in the open market at affordable prices."