The deadly drones
SpaceWar reports that the arms convoy bound for Egypt, then Gaza, which was destroyed by a "major power" in the Sudanese desert was attacked by Israeli UCAVs.
Israel used unmanned drones to attack clandestine Iranian convoys in Sudan that were attempting to smuggle rockets into Gaza, Britain's Sunday Times newspaper reported. The paper said that western diplomats confirmed that Israel attacked the Iranian truck convoys in late January and the first week of February in the remote Sudan desert, just outside the Red Sea town of Port Sudan. ... It quoted defence sources as saying the convoys were carrying Fajr-3 rockets, which have a range of more than 40 miles (65 kilometres), and were split into sections to be smuggled through tunnels into Gaza from Egypt. ...
"They built the Fajr in parts so it would be easy to smuggle them into Gaza, then reassemble them with Hamas experts who learnt the job in Syria and Iran," a source told the paper. The main reason for using drones instead of manned aircraft to attack was that a convoy forms a "slippery" target, a source said.
"When you attack a fixed target, especially a big one, you are better off using jet aircraft. But with a moving target with no definite time for the move UAVs (unmanned aerial vehicles) are best, as they can hover extremely high and remain unseen until the target is on the move," the source said.
The 65 km version is the Fajr 5, which was used by Hezbollah in the 2006 Lebanon war. It is normally fired from a truck chassis, but the missile itself is about a foot wide, about 21 feet long and weighs half a ton. "The Fajr-5 is a 6.6m long solid fuel rocket with a diameter of .33m and a weight of 915kg. It carries a 90kg warhead to a distance of 75km. Both the Fajr-3 and -5 are produced under the auspices of the Aerospace Industries Organization." Broken it up, it might conceivably be moved by narrow gauge rail through a tunnel.
One can only speculate about the airframes Israel might have used in the attack. Certainly the Eitan long range surveillance vehicle may have played its part in following the convey. "Weighing over four tons, Heron TP - also dubbed Heron 2 or “Eitan”, by its Israeli Air Force (IAF) designation - is designed to fly at high altitude on missions spanning over several days." For the attack itself, the Elbit Hermes 450 may have played a role. "The Israeli Air Force, which operates a squadron of Hermes 450s out of Palmachim Airbase south of Tel Aviv, has adapted the Hermes 450 for use as an assault UAV, reportedly equipping it with two Hellfire missiles or, according to various sources, two Rafael-made missiles. According to Israeli, Palestinian, Lebanese and independent reports, the Israeli assault UAV has seen extensive service in the Gaza Strip and was used intensively in the Second Lebanon War as well as in the 2009 Sudan air raids Israel has not denied this capability, but to date, its policy has been not to officially confirm it either."
Incidentally, the use of UAVs highlight once again the vital importance of long range communications, space control and bandwidth dominance in warfare. Those capabilities are ultimately dominated by the United States. Thus, the good graces of the Obama administration are hugely important to Israel if it is to maintain its dominance. In order to defend itself against the threat of missiles from Gaza or other places, Israel must play ball with the USA.