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Red Sea Mysteries Revealed
by James Dunnigan
April 20, 2009

Israel has revealed that it used F-16s, F-15s and UAVs to carry out attacks on convoys of Iranian missiles, being trucked from Sudan into Egypt, for delivery to Hamas in Gaza. These attacks took place over two months ago, and were only recently revealed. The F-16s delivered the attacks, while the F-15s provided protection from potential attacks by Sudanese MiG-29s (unlikely, but possible.) UAVs were used reconnaissance.

The most likely UAV for this is the Heron TP. Equipped with a powerful (1,200 horsepower) turbo prop engine, the 4.6 ton aircraft can operate at 45,000 feet. That is, above commercial air traffic, and all the air-traffic-control regulations that discourage, and often forbid, UAV use at the same altitude as commercial aircraft. The Heron TP has a one ton payload, enabling it to carry sensors that can give a detailed view of what's on the ground, even from that high up. The endurance of 36 hours makes the Heron TP a competitor for the U.S. MQ-9 Reaper (or Predator B). It takes UAVs about ten hours to get from Israeli to the Egypt/Sudan border.

The January attack destroyed 17 (out of 23) truckloads of weapons, and killed 39 men operating the vehicles. The F-16s attacked the convoy twice. Since then, the smugglers have resorted to individual trucks, and the use of small boats moving up the Red Sea coast.

Before the attacks, the U.S. advised Sudan that American intelligence had discovered the smuggling, and that it would be a good idea for Sudan to do something about it. Sudan did nothing, and the attacks took place. At first, the Sudanese believed it was an American attack.

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