Despite frequent appeals and complaints from Ukrainian leaders, Israel has refused requests to provide weapons to Ukraine. Ukraine is now suffering barrages of cruise missiles and suicide drones hitting targets across Ukraine, weapons that are destroying Ukraine’s critical infrastructure.
Israel knows and is deeply concerned that Iran is allegedly supplying Russia with a number of different drones, including the Shahed-136, and may soon be sending tactical missiles to Russia as well.
One of the missiles Iran may reportedly send to Russia is the Fateh-110. Fateh-110 is a solid-fuel rocket that has a range of 186 miles (300 km) and carries a 1,433-pound (650 kg) warhead. Fateh comes in different variants.
The other missile Iran reportedly plans to supply is the Zolfaghar, which is an extended-range variant of the Fateh-110. Its range is 435 miles (700 km). It uses Russia’s Glonass (GNSS) GPS for guidance.
Russia is running low on its own missile stockpile and needs Iran’s rockets and drones to stay in the war. Russia apparently tried to get help from China and North Korea, but neither was willing to do so.
The Shahed-136 is a loitering munition, also known as a suicide drone. The Russians have reportedly rebadged it as the Geran-2 and claim to have improved it. The Shahed uses Russia’s Glonass GPS for navigation, and its targets are preselected. The drone has no camera, so it depends entirely on GPS coordinates. The Shahed is slow flying but has a long range. It’s made out of a plastic composite, so it has a relatively small radar signature.
Russian cruise missiles and alleged Iranian drones have already taken down around 30 percent of Ukraine’s civilian electrical power infrastructure. If attacks continue, as anticipated, Ukraine will be facing considerable difficulties, especially as the weather deteriorates in winter.
Ukraine has specifically asked Israel for its highly successful Iron Dome system. Iron Dome has shot down thousands of Hamas short-range missiles and has been tested successfully at the White Sands U.S. Army proving grounds against simulated cruise missile targets. Iron Dome is a joint Israel-U.S. program.
Israel’s chief concern until now has been not angering the Russians. For a number of years, Israel has had a deconfliction agreement with Russia covering Israeli operations in Syrian airspace. That agreement has allowed Israeli air force raids against Hezbollah and Iranian targets in Syria. Hezbollah, with the help of Iranian specialists, has been bringing more accurate and dangerous missiles and armed drones into Syria for use against Israel. In addition, Iran, Syria, and North Korea built a nuclear reactor in Syria that would have produced plutonium for nuclear weapons. Israel was able to launch an operation to destroy the reactor.
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Stephen Bryen is a Senior Fellow at Yorktown Institute