Open source information on non-state actors weapon arsenal is difficult to glean due to their lack of transparency. MilitaryEdge.org has created broad categories, when necessary, of non-state actors weaponry to provide a general sense of capabilities.
In recent years, Hamas, Hezbollah, and the Islamic State have attempted to develop drone programs.
During the summer war with Hamas in 2014, the Gaza-based terrorist group flew a medium-sized UAV into Israeli airspace which was quickly shot down by an Israeli Patriot missile system. In video released by Hamas after the incident, the drone, which Hamas calls the ‘Ababil 1,’ appears to be homemade with four small rockets that are never launched. Israeli defense officials speculate that Hamas possesses more but referred to them as “model airplanes’ implying that they are relatively unsophisticated.
In November 2012, Israel targeted Hamas’ UAV infrastructure in the Gaza Strip. The Israeli Air Force “inflicted severe damage to Hamas’ UAV infrastructure,” the Israel Defense Forces stated.
Since 2002, Hezbollah has been in the possession of drones. According to Israeli media reports, Hezbollah has recently taken steps to enhance its UAV arsenal, much of which is believed to be variants of the Iranian Ababil drone.
The exact size of Hezbollah’s drone fleet is unclear. A recent report in the Israeli media suggested Hezbollah had 200. However, in 2009, Israeli officials told their American counterparts that they assessed that Hezbollah had only “several” Ababil drones. And, in 2006, an Israeli expert suggested Hezbollah had no more than 30 Ababil drones.
Over the past decade, Hezbollah has sent drones on a couple of occasions into Israeli airspace. For example, in 2004, Hezbollah sent an Iranian-made drone into Israeli territory. The following year, another Hezbollah drone entered Israeli airspace. And, during the 2006 war between Israel and Hezbollah, a number of Hezbollah drones were eliminated by Israel.
In October 2012, the Israeli Air Force shot down a Hezbollah drone that was flying over the northern Negev. Following the incident, the Secretary-General of Hezbollah, Hassan Nasrallah, said, “It is our natural right to send other reconnaissance flights inside occupied Palestine…. This is not the first time and will not be the last. We can reach any place we want.”
Hezbollah may have successfully used an armed drone in August 2016, when footage emerged of what appears to be a small quad-copter dropped grenade-sized munitions on Syrian rebel positions. While fairly crude, the method appears to utilize abundantly available artillery sub-munitions and commercially sold UAVs to conduct lethal attacks.
Islamic State (ISIS)
In August 2014, the Islamic State released a video displaying what appears to be drone surveillance footage from over a Syrian military base in Raqqa governorate. Though the actual drone cannot be seen, it appears to be a small quadcopter which are common on the civilian marketplace. Though the Islamic State has not declared owning more drones, given their low cost and high availability, it is likely that more small surveillance UAVs are in their possession.
Reports emerged in December 2015, that ISIS was packing small tactical UAVs with explosives to use as improvised suicide drones. It was not until October 2016 that one of these explosive-packed UAVs successfully was used by the terror group, killing two Iraqi Kurdish fighters and wounding two French special operation advisors.
An unarmed Iranian drone buzzed an American Super Hornet fighter jet as it circled an aircraft carrier in the Persian Gulf, Defense Department officials said on Tuesday. A statement released by the military’s Central Command said that despite repeated radio calls demanding that Iran keep the drone clear of American flight operations in the vicinity of the […]
Islamic State militants have developed an improvised explosive device (IED) that can be launched from rifles or dropped from an aerial drone, an arms monitoring group said on Wednesday. Conflict Armament Research (CAR) said the Sunni militant group was “promoting the development of ‘own-brand’ weapons” to provide its insurgents with otherwise unavailable armaments. “The (IED) […]
The Iranian Revolutionary Guards have built a number of weapons production factories in Lebanon and handed them over to Hezbollah, which has been running the production lines for the past three months, Kuwaiti newspaper Al-Jarida recently reported. The Kuwaiti newspaper quotes an anonymous source as saying that these plants can produce different types of rockets […]
Late last month, a pair of Islamic State fighters in desert camouflage climbed to the top of a river bluff in northern Iraq to demonstrate an important new weapon: a small drone, about six feet wide with swept wings and a small bomb tucked in its fuselage. The two men launched the slender machine and […]
Kurdish forces fighting the Islamic State in northern Iraq last week shot down a small drone the size of a model airplane. They believed it was like the dozens of drones the terrorist organization had been flying for reconnaissance in the area, and they transported it back to their outpost to examine it. But as they […]
With either expert marksmanship or great luck, an Iraqi soldier apparently shot down an Islamic State drone this past week. The terror group’s drone fleet, if you will, contains nothing even remotely so sophisticated — or lethal — as an Air Force Predator. Its gear is comparatively cheap, consisting of either homemade electronics or products readily […]
Rafael has unveiled its offering for countering malicious unmanned air vehicles, the “Drone Dome”. It defends critical sites against hostile threats, detecting, tracking and neutralising UAVs classified as malicious. According to Rafael, the Drone Dome is aimed at countering UAVs that could perform aerial attacks or carry out surveillance they are not authorised to. […]
An unconfirmed report from Syria suggests that ISIS has started using small drones packed with explosives as weapons. The first attack was a failure, but if the report is accurate, then it signals a dangerous new terror threat. The report showed pictures of the remains of a homemade attack drone. It was apparently shot down, […]
An unsettling surge in terrorism by Iranian proxies has many Israelis convinced the release to Tehran of tens of billions of dollars in frozen funds is already putting the Jewish state in danger. In recent days, rockets have rained down on Israel from Gaza in the south and the Golan Heights to the north, Israeli […]
Hamas announced Wednesday evening that it had successfully dismantled and reassembled an Israeli drone that it said was now “operational” for use by its military arm, according to Ma’ariv . The terrorist organization made the announcement through its official website, claiming that a drone that had crashed into Gaza on July 22 – dubbed the […]
The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) reported February 23 that it had downed an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) over the Mediterranean after it was launched from the Gaza Strip. According to IDF sources, an Israeli F-16 shot down the UAV, which it said belonged to Hamas, before it was able to cross into the country’s airspace. […]
President Barack Obama, defending the recent Iran nuclear deal, or Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), insists that his negotiators are providing an alternative to war. But the president is only referring to how the deal will defer a nuclear showdown. While that can is kicked down the road for decade, the agreement contains a […]
Weapons are pouring into the Middle East at an unprecedented rate. The Pentagon recently announced that it would sell six tilt-rotor Osprey aircraft to Israel for $1.3 billion, American hardware (including Apache helicopters) is being rushed to the Iraqi government to help in its battle against al Qaeda, and Washington has also restored military aid to Egypt after a brief hiatus. But Uncle […]