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Israel launches drone fleet able to reach Iran

Source: Press TV

A Heron TP UAV

Israel's air force has introduced a fleet of large surveillance UAV (unmanned aerial vehicles) that can fly as far as Iran and the Persian Gulf. The Israeli military says the Heron TP drones, with a wingspan of 86 feet (26 meters), will primarily be used for surveillance, implying that they also can be used for other applications.

The jet-sized drones, built by the Israel Aerospace Industries, were first used by the Israeli military during the 23 days of deadly aerial and ground incursion into Gaza in late 2008 and early 2009.

At an inauguration ceremony on Sunday, Israeli officials refused to announce the number of aircraft that were included in the fleet.

They also declined to comment on whether the planes were designed for use against Iran. They did, however, say that the planes could reach the Persian Gulf.

This is the second time this month that Israel has unveiled surveillance UAV's that can reach the Persian Gulf.

Last week, the Israeli army said that it has added the world's largest unmanned surveillance plane to its collection of drones. Officials said the aircraft, called Eitan, could reach Iran by flying over 20 hours.

The United States and Israel have repeatedly threatened to carry out a military strike against Iran.

They accuse the Islamic Republic of pursuing military applications under the guise of a civilian nuclear program, a claim that IAEA inspectors stationed in Iranian nuclear facilities have so far been unable to substantiate.

Iran says, like all other signatories of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), it is entitled to pursue an independent nuclear program for civilian purposes.

Despite the Western accusations, Tehran has always called for a stop to the production and storage of conventional and newly-developed nuclear weapons.

Although Israel does not formally acknowledge or deny possessing such an arsenal, it is widely believed that Tel Aviv possesses over 200 ready-to-launch nuclear warheads. Israel has so far refused to sign the NPT.

Middle Eastern nations view Tel Aviv's nuclear weapons arsenal as a major threat against their national security.

... Payvand News - 02/22/10 ... --

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