Fresh details are emerging from Israel's strike on an alleged arms convoy in Sudan, disclosed last week. For once, the drones only played a supporting role (despite earlier reports to the contrary). The flesh-and-blood pilots were the ones dropping the bombs.
The January hit involved "dozens of aircraft," according to Time magazine. "F-16 fighter-bombers carried out two runs on the convoy, while F-15 fighter planes circled overhead as a precaution in case hostile aircraft were scrambled from Khartoum or a nearby country. After the first bombing run, drones mounted with high-resolution cameras passed over the burning trucks. The video showed that the convoy had only been partially damaged, so the Israelis ordered a second pass with the F-16s."
During their battle with Hamas earlier this year, Israeli officials told Danger Room that one of their many war objectives was "forcing the Egyptians" to stop at least some of the smuggling into Gaza. Israel supplies almost all of Gaza's legal commerce -- while Egyptian officials rake in the cash, turning a blind eye to the illegal trade that comes through the tunnels underneath the Philadelphi Corridor. So the Israelis repeatedly bombed the tunnels to end what they termed "strategic and moral confusion" surrounding the smuggling. And, we're now learning, they also attacked earlier points in the smuggling routes -- in Sudan.
While the robots played a secondary role in those attacks, unmanned systems were key to many, many other Israeli operations during the war with Hamas. Drones flew constantly above Gaza -- and repeatedly attacked targets below. On the ground, robotic bulldozers smashed through booby-trapped buildings and across bomb-laden roads. The Israeli Defense Forces are now planning to double the number of unmanned Caterpillar D9 bulldozers, nicknamed "Black Thunder."
Click to view image: 'F-16I Sudan Strike'
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