Israeli officials say that Russian-made SA-24, man-portable, surface-to-air missiles were looted from Libyan warehouses and transported by Iranians through Sudan and turned over to militants in Gaza and Lebanon. However, G would not address the SA-24 threat directly.
“We have the ability to adapt to all the relevant threats and to adjust our flight profiles,” he says. “We receive updated intelligence on them every day.”
Israeli UAV operations differ somewhat from those conducted by the U.S. Air Force.
“It's different from the U.S., where one group [handles takeoff of the aircraft] in Afghanistan and then transfers control to UAV units in [Creech AFB, Nev.], and the images are analyzed in the Pentagon,” says G. “Here, everything is inside the ground-control station [GCS]. Where we are different from [manned] squadrons is that over 80 percent of our flights are operational. Most are[surveillance and reconnaissance], but we also give close [intelligence] support and bomb damage assessment.”
Direct support involves talking directly to an infantry platoon leader. Indirect support is communicating to the tactical air control party who is then in direct contact with the infantry.
The GCS has three positions: two to operate the aircraft, and one that is often occupied by a specialist for sea or ground ops. The crewman on the right operates the cameras and serves as an alternative pilot. The crewman on the left is in charge of the mission flight envelope and talks to air control about issues with the mission.
“I think Israel is the only country in the world that issues licenses for all the activities related to flying drones, even in civilian airspace,” says G.