Page last updated at 18:41 GMT, Sunday, 21 February 2010

Israel unveils new drone that can fly to Gulf


Israeli drone 'can reach Iran'

The Israeli Air Force has introduced a fleet of pilotless aircraft that can stay in the air for nearly a day and fly as far as the Gulf.

The Eitan drones, which have a wingspan of 86ft (26m), are the size of Boeing 737 passenger jets.

They can reach an altitude of more than 40,000ft (12,000m) and fly for more than 20 consecutive hours.

AP quoted defence officials as saying the planes could provide surveillance and jam enemy communications.

Israel, along with the US and other Western nations, believes Iran is trying to develop nuclear weapons and has repeatedly suggested it could attack the country if diplomatic attempts to curb the programme fail.

At the fleet's inauguration ceremony at an airbase in central Israel, IAF commander Maj Gen Ido Nehushtan said the new drone "has the potential to be able to conduct new missions down the line as they become relevant".

Israeli officials refused to say how large the new fleet was.

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