The Israeli Air Force has unveiled a remarkable new piece of weaponry in its air force (see link below). The link, sent to me by a reader, reports that the Israelis have built “a fleet of huge pilotless planes that can remain in the air for a full day and could fly as far as the Persian Gulf (emphasis added).” The new plane is as large as a commercial Boeing 737 airliner, and it can reportedly perform a variety of missions. The fact that it can fly to the Persian Gulf means that this fleet of remotely-controlled airliner-size planes can participate in any attack upon Iran’s nuclear facilities without any risk of losing valuable Israeli pilots.
The flight ceiling of this new pilotless airplane is given as “higher than 40,000 feet,” but since it has no crew and no need for oxygen to support a crew, I’ll bet its actual service ceiling is much higher than 40,000 feet. The new pilotless airplane is called a “technological and operational breakthrough.” It can be used for long reconnaissance missions and it can carry “diverse payloads” as well as perform “new missions down the road as they become relevant.” Obviously, with no need to service crew needs, a lot of electronic gear can be placed in this airliner-sized RPV. Much electronic gear could be devoted to defeating anti-aircraft defensive systems so this pilotless warplane could penetrate enemy defenses. This large an RPV could carry many bombs and missiles. Indeed, it is likely the largest remotely-piloted warplane in the world.
Allow me to speculate on what its “new missions” might be if they become needed “down the road.” A pilotless airplane this large raises the possibilities of some very unusual and unconventional missions if the Israelis have to attack Iran. An airliner-size warplane with no pilots could be configured to become a very large flying bomb if it is given a one-way mission. Given the cost of developing these airliner-sized RPVs, I’m sure the Israelis would ordinarily plan two-way missions for this new fleet of warplanes so each of these immense RPVs could be used many times. However, if the Israeli High Command determines that certain Iranian nuclear-related targets constitute an existential threat to Israeli survival, an airliner-sized RPV could be used in a multi-purpose attack that was intended to be a one-way mission. It is so large that, on a single mission, it could fire a variety of cruise missiles at many Iranian targets when it comes within range, drop bombs on other targets and then be flown by its controller directly into a high-priority Iranian target with a large amount of explosives in it. In other words, it could be used on a “kamikaze” mission to deliver an immense amount of high explosives directly on a high-value Iranian nuclear facility. No doubt, it is large enough to deliver nuclear weapons as well as conventional ordnance. I wonder how big a hole in the ground would be made if an Israeli RPV as large as an airliner flew directly into one of Iran’s underground nuclear facilities and detonated a nuclear warhead as it hit its target? That might set back Iran’s nuclear weapons program for quite awhile. I’m not predicting that this kind of mission will ever occur, but it certainly would be possible. After all, it may be a sheer coincidence that the Israelis have now built an RPV big enough to perform just such a mission.