The IDF confirmed firing a Patriot missile toward an Russian Unmanned Aerial Vehicle near the Burayqah of the Syrian province of El Quneitra over the territory of the demilitarized zone near the line of control of the Golan Heights. The downed drone turned out to be a Russian unmanned air vehicle (UAV) called the Forpost. Ironically, but the downed five-meter-long Forpost UAV was manufactured at the Ural Civil Aviation Plant in Russia under licensed the Searcher technology from Israel.
The fighting intensified over the weekend, with the Syrian army backed by Russian air power and Shiite militias pounding the rebel-held areas, causing thousands more to flee to other opposition-held areas along the Israeli and Jordanian borders. The border with Syria has been tense since the war erupted in 2011. Israeli and Russian officials meet regularly to discuss the deconfliction mechanism implemented over Syria to avoid accidental clashes. Israel has used Patriot anti-ballistic missile batteries stationed in the north of the country to intercept drones infiltrating into Israeli airspace from Syria.
Israeli officials have repeatedly voiced their concern about the entrenchment of Iran and its proxies, such as Hezbollah, in Syria and has stepped up strikes against Iranian military targets in the war-torn country, as well as against Hezbollah weapons convoys in Syrian territory. Israel’s air defenses also include the Iron Dome, designed to shoot down short-range rockets; the Arrow system which intercepts ballistic missiles outside of the Earth’s atmosphere; and the David’s Sling missile-defense system which is designed to intercept tactical ballistic missiles, medium- to long-range rockets and cruise missiles fired from ranges of between 40 km. to 300 km.
The heaviest of the UAVs deployed by Russia to Syria appears to be the 370-kg (815-pound) Forpost, a licensed copy of IAI Searcher II. This model is understood to be the only UAV type employing conventional takeoff and landing procedures at Khmeimeem. The Forpost is a multi-mission tactical remotely piloted aerial system used for surveillance, reconnaissance, target acquisition, artillery adjustment and damage assessment.