Naval Air: UAVs Guard Israeli Gas Fields


August 19, 2011:  Israel is assigning UAVs to patrol the waters off its northern coast, to watch for Hezbollah attacks on Israeli natural gas operations. Last year, Israel discovered $100 billion worth of natural gas off shore, near the Lebanese border. Since the Lebanese Hezbollah terrorist organization constantly calls for war with Israel, there is fear that Hezbollah will attack the gas operations because Lebanon disputes where the maritime border is, and insists that some of the Israeli gas discoveries belong to Lebanon.

Israel is using UAVs for these coastal patrols because, three years ago, they began replacing manned maritime patrol aircraft with UAVs. Back then, Israel had three Seascan aircraft, which are modified versions of the Israeli made Westwind executive jet. The ten ton Seascan aircraft has a seven man crew and is equipped with search radar, and can carry missiles. The Seascan has an endurance of six hours. SeaScan is being supplemented, and eventually replaced, by the 1.1 ton Heron UAV. This unmanned aircraft can stay in the air for 30 hours or more, and has a payload of 227 kg (500 pounds), which can include search radar. Using the Heron, instead of the Seascan, will save a lot of money, and provide better coverage. The Seascan aircraft have been in service for thirty years, and are about at the end of their useful lives.




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