by DAVID AXE
As Iran continues to tease the world regarding its murky nuclear ambitions, the U.S., Israel and other powers keep positioning themselves for possible attacks on Iranian targets. One key will be accurate intelligence on Iranian nuke facilities and air-defense networks. In the last two weeks, it’s become increasingly clear that drone aircraft are playing a big role in developing that intel.
After a year of hazy reports by French reporters and Aviation Week‘s Bill Sweetman, this month the U.S. Air Force finally confirmed the existence of its RQ-170 Sentinel stealthy, flying-wing spy drone. As the Lockheed Martin-built Sentinel has twice been spotted flying out of Kandahar in southern Afghanistan, Sweetman dubbed it the “Beast of Kandahar.” It’s not clear why the coalition would need a stealthy drone in Afghanistan, Air Force Times pointed out:
Experts such as Phil Finnegan, a UAV analyst at the Teal Group, an aerospace consulting firm, suggest [Beast's] stealth capabilities are being used to fly in nearby countries. Neighboring Iran has an air force and air defense system that would require stealth technology to penetrate.
Just a week later, Israeli drone-maker Elbit unveiled its new Hermes 900 recon drone, which The Jerusalem Post said “is capable of carrying out surveillance missions thousands of kilometers from Israel, including over Iran.”
(Photo: Air & Cosmos)