Israel is likely to sign a deal to supply spy drones worth $230 million to India soon, officials said Sunday.
State-owned Israeli Aircraft Industries will also supply military surveillance hardware for the unmanned aircraft which will be jointly produced in India, defence ministry officials said.
"We are quite close to signing a deal," a highly-placed official said. They said the offer includes 50 Eagle-Heron Israeli drones which have a range of 1,000 kilometres (620 miles), can stay airborne for more than 24 hours and cruise at an altitude of 25,000 feet (7,575 metres).
India, which treated Israel like a pariah for decades, has forged close military links in recent years. It is acquiring two Phalcon Airborne Early Warning Systems worth a billion dollars and will jointly produce a long-range missile from the Jewish state.'
Also on the subject of drones, an Iranian-produced drone operated by Hezbollah made an incursion into Israeli airspace. According to Ha'Aretz:
Hezbollah announced Sunday that it had sent an unmanned reconnaissance drone on sorties over northern Israel earlier in the day, saying that the plane - known as the Mirsad-1 - flew as far as Nahariya before returning safely to its base in southern Lebanon.
The Israel Defense Forces confirmed Sunday evening that a drone did indeed enter Israeli airspace, and flew over the northern city of Nahariya. The IDF said that the drone crashed into the sea when it returned to Lebanon. Reports from Lebanese fishermen of an object slamming into the sea apparently confirms the IDF's report.
"The new qualitative achievement comes as part of the natural response to Israel's violation of Lebanese air space," the militant organization said in a report on its television channel, Al-Manar.
The Jerusalem Post elaborates:
The penetration of an unmanned spy plane into northern Israel Sunday has gravely concerned the IDF command, which is bracing for a flare up on the northern border as the disengagement approaches.
The IDF confirmed Sunday night Hizbullah's claim that it had succeeded in sending a drone over the skies of the western Galilee.
It was the first time an enemy unmanned aerial vehicle had succeeded in entering Israel and represented a bold and provocative step by the Iranian-backed Shiite group.
Hizbullah said the UAV, dubbed "Mirsad 1" or Ambush, had reached all the way to the northern Israeli costal town of Nahariya at 10:30 a.m. and "returned safely to base," mimicking the old IDF statements usually put out after bombing raids in Lebanon.
But reports from Lebanon said the UAV crashed at sea on its return trip from it sojourn over the tiny corner of Israel. An IDF statement said Hizbullah was aided in the endeavor by Iran and Syria "with the aim of targeting Israeli civilians."
It was a propaganda coup for Hizbullah, showing it could succeed in doing what no Arab state has. Only Egypt among the Arab nations has a serious UAV program. Iraq had attempted to develop one but it was not a success.
The Iranians, however, have been developing UAVs for over a decade and it is one of theirs that is believed to have been used Sunday by Hizbullah. The Mirsad 1 is a small remote-controlled drone with one engine and a small camera.
Morning Report: April 12, 2005 (Hezbollah drone penetrates Israeli airspace.)
Hezbollah Drone Update
Eagle/Heron, and Another UAV