Why do Israeli air defense systems fail to intercept drones? Why do Israeli air defense systems fail to intercept drones?

Why do Israeli air defense systems fail to intercept drones?

Why do Israeli air defense systems fail to intercept drones?

For hours, the drones launched by the Lebanese Hezbollah roamed over northern Israel, during which they took pictures of military bases and industrial and civilian facilities, specifically in the city of Haifa, which raised questions about the reason that prevented the Israeli army from shooting down or intercepting the drones.

The Israeli army claimed that three drones crossed the border. One of them was intercepted and the other disappeared from the radar, while the third was left unobstructed so as not to create a state of panic for the population, especially since it was not armed. It was not explained how the drone returned to Lebanon again or if it was not. Its return, how was it intercepted or controlled?

The Israeli occupation army relies on a multi-layered air defense system to intercept short-, medium- and long-range missiles. Over the past years, the army has invested in building and developing these systems, which are intended to be an Israeli shield in the face of the challenges facing Israel.

During the past years, specifically in the Ukrainian-Russian war, drones posed the most important challenge to air defense systems. The Israelis monitored this war well, but its lessons did not take root in the Israeli army, which suffers in the face of drones launched from Lebanon.

Multi-layered defense with no solution for drones
Israeli air defense relies on a group of defense systems that form a multi-layered system. That is, every threat has a dedicated missile system. The Iron Dome is designed to intercept short-range missiles and artillery shells.

The David's Sling system, known as the "Magic Wand", is designed to intercept medium-range missiles, while the Arrow system, which includes Arrow 2 and Arrow 3, is designed to combat long-range ballistic missiles.

Regarding the systems that Israel uses to intercept drones, the researcher in security and military affairs, Imad Nasser, points out two types of drones: large fixed-wing drones and small multi-rotor ones. The Israeli army relies on detection radars, such as those at the Meron base, or the Iron Dome radars, David’s Sling, and others, to detect fixed-wing drones.”

Nasser added in his interview with TRT Arabi, “For the drones with smaller propellers, the army relies on a detection system spread along the border with Israel, such as the drone guard and the drone dome, which are installed on the border towers, and they were recently subjected to severe damage due to being targeted by Hezbollah.” God.

In an interview with the Israeli Calcalist website, Liran Antebi of the Institute for National Security Studies (INSS), which researches the field of drones and unmanned vehicles, said that the Israeli army was not prepared for this challenge due to the inability to deeply understand the changing nature of the air threat.

Terrain and boundaries
According to Israeli army data, the air defense intercepted approximately 19,000 missiles from Lebanon, in addition to 150 drones, while estimates indicated that the percentage of what the Israeli air defenses intercepted during the months of May and June did not exceed 50%.

Researcher Liran Anteni points out that the Israeli army was convinced that "in any future conflict with Hezbollah, missiles would be the main threat, while drones would be secondary. This scenario was defined as an extreme case."

Calcalist quoted an Israeli security official: “It is impossible to buy everything for every threat. Investing in a defense system against drones would have come at the expense of other equipment budgets.”

Calcalist revealed last February that the major change in the Israeli army's approach to dealing with the drone threat did not come until after the outbreak of war.

She pointed to many measures aimed at improving the protection of basic infrastructure, bases and sensitive facilities against drones, which cost more than a billion shekels.

As for Imad Nasser, he attributes the failure of the Israeli air defense to “the step taken by Hezbollah, which was to mislead the Israeli systems along the border, by destroying warning and surveillance systems and radars.”

He added, “The geographical nature of southern Lebanon, and its difficult terrain such as mountains and valleys, act as natural barriers, and give the drones natural paths through which they pass without being detected, which makes them covers for the passage of the drones into the occupied territories, which makes the army’s attempt to intercept them useless because of their passage.” And actually reaching the goal.”

Roni Yishai, a military analyst for the Yedioth Ahronoth newspaper, agrees on the importance of terrain, adding, “Hezbollah has learned to operate drones and use the terrain to create a path that allows the drone to fly at a low altitude to evade the radars of the Israeli army.”

He confirms that "the low radar signature of the drone also helps it in stealth. It appears that a combination of correct operating tactics on the part of Hezbollah and the small dimensions of the drone helped prevent detection and early warning."

Attempts to solve
The Israeli army seeks to adapt to the threat posed by drones by developing new systems that support the existing air defense system, while the army relies on the air force to deal with drones.

According to researcher Nasser, the Israeli occupation army employs “fighter jets to intercept drones, because the close distance between the Lebanese border and the targets that the party is dealing with makes the Israeli air defenses unable to deal with them, which makes it necessary for the fighter jets to maintain their alert in the air.” And intercepting aircraft, but this additional task for the Air Force caused an exhaustion in the military capabilities of the Air Force.”

The Times of Israel newspaper quoted the Israeli Air Force as saying that the interception in the Israeli air defense system is carried out manually, in order to prevent accidental interception of “friendly” aircraft, as well as to preserve the intercepting aircraft in cases of false identification.

The escalating threat of drones prompted the Israeli Ministry of Defense to work with defense companies to find practical solutions to the drone problem. According to Yossi Yehoshua, army and security affairs correspondent for Yedioth Ahronoth newspaper, the army gave these defense companies a “blank check” to find a solution.

Yossi Yehoshua added that it is expected that improvements will be made to the Iron Dome system, allowing it to have more detection capabilities to identify suspicious aerial targets, but Yehoshua points out that sources in the defense system said that interception using it is expensive, and therefore cheaper solutions must be found, such as advanced cannons.

Yedioth Ahronoth's correspondent reports that the Israeli army is seeking to reintroduce the "Vulcan" cannon systems, which were discontinued years ago. Especially since the Israeli security system estimates that thousands of drones are owned by Hezbollah and its allies, which makes it necessary to provide a cheap and effective system.

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