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.
Hamas is thought to possess several unmanned aircraft systems, defense officials said Monday after the Israel Defense Forces shot down a drone near Ashdod. A senior officer said Military Intelligence has closely followed the development of unmanned aerial vehicles in both Lebanon and Gaza, and Israel has even attacked sites in the past where such […]
Israel’s military said Monday it shot down an unmanned drone along its southern coastline, the first time it has encountered such a weapon since its struggle with Gaza Strip militants began last week. The military said the drone came from Gaza and was downed by a Patriot missile near the southern city of Ashdod. The […]
The United States moved Thursday to blacklist a group of companies it said covertly helped Lebanon’s Hezbollah acquire components for surveillance drones. The US Treasury placed sanctions on Beirut-based Stars Group Holding, which it said purchased electronics and other technology via offices in China and Dubai to support Hezbollah’s military operations. That included the development […]
Protecting the skies above the State of Israel is the main mission of the IAF. Part of this mission requires that the IAF adjust itself to the challenges of the day. In recent years, the threat of hostile unmanned aerial vehicles has only increased. This week, the IAF trained for this ever-developing threat In light […]
The Israeli air force is adapting some of its systems and adding others, to be ready for a wide unmanned air systems attack on targets inside the country in a future military confrontation. The service pointed to the threat for the first time when Brig Gen Shachar Shohat, head of its defence command, addressed a […]
Hizbullah had recently established a small military airport in the Bekaa city of Baalbek and is operating Iranian-made drones, the Saudi al-Watan daily reported on Thursday. According to the daily, Hizbullah also created high-security secret tunnels and depots, that were dug under Iranian supervision. The Iranian drones were identified as Mirsad-1 and Mirsad-2. […]
Hezbollah is proving once again that its fight is not only against Israel, but is also focused on its own internal interests in Lebanon and Syria. After dispatching thousands of its fighters to the battlefields of Syria, on behalf of ally and sponsor Bashar Assad, who has sustained major military losses, it has now begun […]
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 […]