Israel destroyed two sites used to develop unmanned air vehicles during the opening days of its "Pillar of Defense" campaign against Hamas militants in the Gaza Strip, it has emerged.

Sources say the Israeli air force used precise intelligence information to destroy a warehouse in which Hamas had been developing UAVs, as well as targeting an airstrip that had been used during the testing of some prototypes. Hamas has performed such tasks with Iranian assistance, Israel claims.

Smoke above the Gaza Strip

 Rex Features   

Smoke rises above the Gaza Strip

An Israeli air force Lockheed Martin F-16 fighter in October shot down a small UAV that had been launched by Hezbollah militants from Lebanon and entered the nation's airspace after flying over the Mediterranean Sea and Gaza.

Sources say an investigation of the aircraft's wreckage suggest that it had undergone "some changes", and carried undisclosed "non-standard" elements.

The service shot down an Iranian-made Ababil UAV in 2006 that was being operated by Hezbollah during fighting on the Israeli/Lebanese border.

Since a similar occurrence in November 2004, the Israeli air force has introduced new sensors that have improved its capability to detect unmanned systems trying to enter its airspace.

Source: Flight International