London, Asharq Al-Awsat – Last week was not the first time Hezbollah successfully violated Israeli airspace with a reconnaissance aircraft. The “Ayoub” drone, which Hezbollah Secretary General Hassan Nasrallah named after a fallen Hezbollah member, Hussein Ayoub, was preceded in 2004 by the Mirsad-1 spy plane, which was able to fly over many Israeli settlements until it reached the coastal settlement of Nahariya and then returned safely to its base.
At the time, the Lebanese-based militant group described this endeavour as a “qualitative new achievement for the Islamic resistance in Lebanon, which is a natural reaction to the Zionist enemy’s continuous and repeated violations of Lebanese airspace whenever it wants.”
However, nine years later Hezbollah has a more sophisticated reconnaissance plane, which the group’s leader claims is “Iranian built and assembled in Lebanon”, and according to Amin Hutayt, a military and strategic expert close to Hezbollah, the “Ayoub” drone is able to carry explosives whenever the party decides so.
“What distinguishes Ayoub is that it is able to fly between 1,000 and 1, 5000 kilometres, and it is capable of evading radars. The drone managed to penetrate seven systems of radar surveillance as a result of two main factors: The nature of its metal structure that absorbs the wave instead of reflecting it and due to the success of the operating side in the camouflaging operation by using air routes Israel usually uses.” Hutayt told Asharq Al-Awsat.
Despite the “Ayoub” drone being Hezbollah’s most advanced reconnaissance plane, a number of military experts have labelled it “a small toy”. Within this context, retired Brigadier General Wahbah Qatisha, a military expert told Asharq Al-Awsat ,”How do they consider this drone an achievement while Israel possess700 warplanes that can fly for thousands of kilometres carrying hundreds of tons of ammunition and 200 nuclear warheads.”
Qatisha believes that Hezbollah sending its drone to Israel at this particular time is an invitation for it to launch a military strike against Lebanon.