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Iran Develops a 2,000-km Range Stealth Attack Drone

By DEBKAfile

Iranian Defense Minister Gen. Ahmad Vahidi warned Sunday, in Tehran: "The drone was definitely not the latest Iranian technology.": He was talking about the drone which Iran and Hizbullah sent over Israeli airspace on October 6 and stressed that it was not the last word in their UAV armory - or even the last to invade Israel's skies.

According to our military sources, in mid-September, Tehran secretly shipped to Lebanon a batch of dismantled Ababil-T UAVs although the Iranians could not be sure that Israel would not discover their location and its air force bomb them before they were launched. The Syrian war is also making it hard to maintain permanent Iranian launching teams in Lebanon.

However, Iran is making great strides in producing drones with more capabilities and longer ranges. During the 2006 Lebanon War, Hizbullah launched an earlier model of the Ababil to bomb Tel Aviv. It was shot down by the Israeli Air Force. Since then, the Iranians have produced the more advanced Ababil-T for short and medium range attack and Ababils-B and –S.

DEBKAfile's military sources identify Ababil-T as Iran's most advanced drone in operational service. It has electronic warfare, military intelligence-gathering and online transmission capabilities suited to conditions of front-line battle. It is designed to disable enemy electronic systems in combat, especially those of the United States and Israel. Ababil means "swallow," after the story in the Koran of an enemy sending a herd of elephants to attack the Qaaba in Mecca and the swallows released by Allah for defeating them.

Its prototype had a maximum flying range of 150 kilometers, an altitude 4.2 kilometers and it could stay aloft for 10 hours at a stretch. Iranian engineers have rapidly improved its velocity and range. But until recently, they were not known to have figured out how to produce a drone able to cover the distance to Israel in direct flight without a staging-post in Lebanon. They dared not let their prize Ababil-T cut through Iraq or Turkey because it risked interception by the American or NATO forces stationed in those countries.

This obstacle appears to have been overcome by the last upgraded Ababil, according to Gen. Vahidi. Indeed, a week before he spoke, Manouchehr Manteqi, head of Iran's aerospace industry, announced that Tehran now had drones capable of flying a distance of 2,000 kilometers – and therefore reaching Israel.

Iran plans to store a supply of those advanced models to Lebanon for the use of Hizbullah – and not only against Israel but to extend its range against a whole array of Tehran's enemies – before flying them back to home base in Iran. Iranian sources claim that the latest drone was tested in combat conditions In November 2011. A UAV was sent secretly over US Fifth Fleet vessels in the Persian Gulf, collected data and gained valuable experience for its further development.

Iran says it now has advanced to the planning stages of a spy drone with stealth qualities and a large UAV bomber, cannibalizing technology pirated from the American RQ-170 Sentinel drone they downed on Dec. 4, 2011, buying it from Russia and China and stealing it from the West. Most of their UAV development program budget is being spent on upgrading their drones' navigation, transmission and cyber warfare systems.

The great progress Iran has made in the past five years in all these fields has been helped along by Iranian students returning home from studies at MIT and other universities in the United States, Britain and Germany. They are offered attractive salaries to work hard on the goals set before them.


Al-Qaeda Forms All-Female Brigade to Attack West

By Reuters

Al-Qaeda has formed an all-female 'Burkha Brigade' to infiltrate and hit Western military bases and targets, as they are less likely than men to attract suspicion. A film posted online shows the all-female unit of al-Qaeda using an alarming array of weapons, including machine-guns, grenade rocket launchers and sniper rifles during their training session at an unknown location.

The women are thought to have been recruited from the war-torn Russian republic of Chechnya by an al-Qaeda-linked group, with bases in Pakistan and Afghanistan, The Sun reported Sunday. The report has raised concerns that the global terror network has formed all-female units because they are less likely to attract suspicion than men and can more easily infiltrate security barriers. Women also remain less conspicuous as they generally hide the explosives beneath the abaya — the black cloak worn from head to toe, according to The Sun.

In September, a female suicide bomber in Afghanistan rammed an explosive-laden car into a mini-bus carrying foreign aviation workers to the airport in the Afghan capital Kabul, killing at least 12 people, including eight South Africans. In August, a 30-year-old Russian actress who converted to Islam killed Dagestan's top Muslim spiritual leader Sheikh Said Afandi and six others in a suicide attack.


Netanyahu's Likud Party Approves Merger with Lieberman's Yisrael Beiteinu

By Ha'aretz

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's Likud party voted to approve a merger with Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman's Yisrael Beiteinu on Monday, finalizing the move first announced by the two party leaders last week. Likud members, meeting in Tel Aviv's Exhibition Grounds, voted to approve the move by an overwhelming majority, despite recent and vocal criticism against the bid from within the party.

"We must protect the security of the State of Israel, protect jobs, act to lower the cost of living," Netanyahu told the gathering ahead of the vote. He argued that, despite the merger, the Likud would remain a separate entity. "The Likud will remain an independent party," he said.

Addressing rumors to the effect that the move was meant to position Lieberman as Netanyahu's ultimate successor as prime minister, Netanyahu said, "I've heard all kinds of things in recent days about successors. I have news for you: I plan to lead the State of Israel for many more years. The Likud will continue to lead the State of Israel for many more years."

Lieberman on Monday night called the vote "a historic and important decision that will lead to a strengthening of the State of Israel and to its leadership by an experienced and united leadership. The unification of Likud-Beiteinu will allow for the setting up after the elections of a stable, strong government that can deal in the best way with the challenges facing the State of Israel. This move will bring back the ability to govern and create internal fortitude and outward power."

What's irking many Likud members is that Netanyahu was definitely the next prime minster even before he stood under the canopy with Yisrael Beiteinu leader Avigdor Lieberman. And the Likud-right-ultra-Orthodox bloc led unequivocally in all polls before the announcement of the surprise joint list.

During a meeting with Likud ministers, Netanyahu defended his decision to unify Likud with Yisrael Beiteinu, saying the move would guarantee his win in the election. "It is one list but it is not the unification of parties," Netanyahu told Likud ministers. "This is a step that guarantees that we will assemble the next coalition government," Netanyahu said, stressing that the two parties will run on one list but not merge together. We will not alter the Likud platform," he said. "This is an important step on the way to the unification of the right."

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