. Military Space News .

Israel deploys UAVs to monitor gas fields
by Staff Writers
Tel Aviv, Israel (UPI) Aug 10, 2011

disclaimer: image is for illustration purposes only

Israel's air force has deployed aerial drones to keep watch on the country's disputed offshore gas fields in the eastern Mediterranean after Hezbollah threatened to target Israel's energy facilities if it tried to "steal Lebanon's resources from Lebanese waters."

The Israeli military drew up a plan to protect the fields, which contain an estimated 26 trillion cubic feet of natural gas, some time ago as Beirut's claims that Israel was intruding into Lebanese waters grew more threatening.

But the July 26 warning by Hezbollah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah prompted the Israelis to order the air force's Heron unmanned aerial vehicles to maintain round-the-clock surveillance against a range of possible attacks by missiles, aerial bombs, airborne and ship-borne suicide bombs, torpedoes and airstrikes.

The Heron, developed and built by Israel Aerospace Industries, is equipped with special electro-optical systems for maritime operations. It isn't clear whether the Israelis are using armed UAVs for the operations.

"Israel's concern is that Hezbollah will try to attack the Israeli gas rigs at sea in explosive-laden ships or with anti-ship missiles," Yaakov Katz, The Jerusalem Post's military analyst, reported Wednesday.

The primary targets would likely be the Leviathan field 81 miles west of Haifa, which contains at least 16 trillion cubic feet of gas, and the nearby Tamar field, 30 miles west of Haifa, which holds around 8 tcf.

These could make energy-short Israel self-sufficient for decades, saving $4 billion in imports annually, and even transform it into a gas exporter.

That makes the gas fields holding reserves estimated to be worth $40 billion, of immeasurable strategic importance to the Jewish state, particularly if neighboring Egypt, which has supplied Israel with gas in the past, seeks to distance itself from its 1979 peace treaty following the fall of President Hosni Mubarak in February.

The Israeli navy's chief of intelligence, Brig. Gen. Yaron Levi, observed last week that Hezbollah and the Palestinian Hamas movement in the Gaza Strip, both armed by Iran and Syria, have obtained advanced missiles capable of hitting anywhere in Israel, including the offshore gas fields and onshore facilities and ports.

"The challenges facing the navy are many, from the Gaza Strip to the north," Levi noted during a conference in Tel Aviv.

"Iran is overseeing everything from above. Iran is the dominant element with regard to funding and transferring weapons to our neighbors."

Hezbollah, in particular, is known to operate C-802 anti-ship missiles, designed by the Chinese but upgraded by the Iranians, and first used them in combat on July 14, 2006, during the opening phase of the 34-day Israel-Hezbollah war in July and August that year.

The Shiite group, Hezbollah, reportedly using radar data provided by sympathizers in the Lebanese army, badly damaged an Israeli corvette, the Hanit, 10 miles off the Lebanese coast with a C-802.

It carries a warhead packing a shaped charge of 390 pounds of high explosives. Israeli defense analyst David Eshel says that's "a most capable threat to major warships, including U.S. aircraft carriers."

In the same attack, another C-802 sank an Egyptian freighter passing 40 miles out to sea. The missiles have a range of around 25 miles, so for an attack on offshore drilling platforms they would have to be fired from a ship.

"We're aware of the anti-ship missiles that are possesses by terrorist organizations and are preparing accordingly," Levi said.

Hezbollah also has an unknown number of Iranian-produced UAVs, the Ababil and the older twin-tailed Mirsad. These supposedly could be loaded with explosives and used as flying bombs.

The group's first UAV mission over Israel, a test surveillance flight Nov. 7, 2004, was with a Mirsad that crashed into the sea off the coastal town of Nahariya -- the general area where the gas fields are located.

Hezbollah launched two Ababils against Israel Aug. 13, 2006, in the closing hours of the war. Both were shot down.

Nasrallah claimed in April 2005 that the UAVs, with a maximum range of 150 miles, could be packed with 88-110 pounds of explosives to attack "priority targets deep inside Israel."

Leviathan and Tamar would be key targets. But onshore facilities, such as gas storage tanks around Haifa, processing plants, export terminals and pipelines would also be exposed to attack by Hezbollah.

Related Links
UAV News - Suppliers and Technology

Get Our Free Newsletters Via Email
Buy Advertising Editorial Enquiries

. Comment on this article via your Facebook, Yahoo, AOL, Hotmail login.

Share this article via these popular social media networks
del.icio.usdel.icio.us DiggDigg RedditReddit GoogleGoogle

Israel deploys drones over offshore gas fields: report
Jerusalem (AFP) Aug 9, 2011
Israel has deployed drones to keep watch on gas fields off its northern coast, fearing attack by the Hezbollah militia from neighbouring Lebanon, the Jerusalem Post daily reported on Tuesday. The fields lie in a part of the Mediterranean that is claimed by Israel for gas exploration and production, but Lebanon says the fields lie within its territorial waters. "The decision to deploy dro ... read more

US destroys missile over Pacific in test

Israel tests advanced missile interceptor

US senators voice worry over radar deal with Turkey

New Missile Warning Satellite Delivers First Infrared Imagery

Raytheon Joint Standoff Weapon C-1 Completes First Free-Flight Test

US Air Force Completes Developmental Testing of Raytheon Laser-Guided Maverick

Lockheed Martin To Support Tactical Tomahawk Weapons Control System

Lockheed Martin's GMLRS+ Completes Successful Test Flight of Long-Range Motor

Israel deploys UAVs to monitor gas fields

Israel deploys drones over offshore gas fields: report

Japanese inventor develops flying sphere drone

HALE-D Demonstrated During Abbreviated Flight

Raytheon Develops Miniature Antenna To Extend Millimeter Wave Friendly ID Technology

China launches another experimental satellite

USAF Approves Production of NGC Deployable Digital Wireless System for Remote Warfighters

Raytheon BBN Technologies Awarded DoD Contract to Develop a Secure, Attributed Military Network System

Electronic skin tattoo has medical, gaming, spy uses

Indra, AgustaWestland partner

Raytheon Small Diameter Bomb II Uncooled Tri-Mode Seeker Exceeds Expectations

Raytheon and Tobyhanna Army Depot Enter a Public-Private Partnership

Israel 'seeks 20 more F-35 stealth jets'

Thales New Zealand sounds out suppliers

Namibia orders EC-145 helicopter

Brazil's arms buying up for review again

Outside View: Day of infamy

China's aircraft carrier 'to pressure neighbours'

China aircraft carrier should handle disputes: report

Belarus, S. Ossetia cool on joining Russia

Boeing and BAE Systems to Develop Integrated Directed Energy Weapon for US Navy

System Integration of High Energy Laser Technology Demonstrator Completed

Raytheon Acquires Directed Energy Capabilities of Ktech Corporation

Memory Foam Mattress Review
Newsletters :: SpaceDaily Express :: SpaceWar Express :: TerraDaily Express :: Energy Daily
XML Feeds :: Space News :: Earth News :: War News :: Solar Energy News

The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2011 - Space Media Network. AFP and UPI Wire Stories are copyright Agence France-Presse and United Press International. ESA Portal Reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. Advertising does not imply endorsement,agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by Space Media Network on any Web page published or hosted by Space Media Network. Privacy Statement