How Far into Israel Can Hezbollah Reach?
My Surprise Hit: the Hezbollah bombing range graphic

So what exactly is the Mirsad 1 UAV?

I've been following the discussion of whether the ships attacked off the coast of Lebanon were hit  by Mirsad 1 UAVs (aka drones) or by missiles. Initial news stories said UAVs. Later news stories said Iranian-made missiles. Bill Roggio has a good post on what's wrong with thet ground-based missile theory: Hezbollah missile sea strikes: UAV or ground based? And Noah Schachtman's palimpsest of a multiply-revised post on the subject indicates just how complicated this fast-moving story can be.

There's something fascinatingly cinematic about the idea of killer model planes. So I decided to pursue a different angle: Just what is this Mirsad 1? Everyone seems to have the same lousy photo. Is it really a riff on the Hunter? I pawed through a whole lot of Google Images looking for matches. There is certainly an argument to be made that the Mirsad 1 and the Hunter are very similar UAVs. But I found another good match: The Seeker II made by Kentron UAV Systems in South Africa.

Is the Mersad 1 more like the Seeker II or the Hunter?

My vote is for the Seeker II, based on visual inspection of grainy photos found on the Internet.

So the other day I was writing about imaginary secret societies. Today it's killer model planes. Just how much stranger is the 21st century going to get and is this something we should take seriously? Well, actually, yes.

There were a number of articles a couple of years ago, when the Mirsad 1 was first spotted flitting about. For example this one: Terrorists Develop Unmanned Aerial Vehicles: On "Mirsad 1" Fight Over Israel from, which remarks:

As analysis of technical capabilities shows,  UAVs can become a very attractive option for terrorists anxious to deliver a covert attack with the use of chemical or biological weapons. Even armed with conventional explosives, UAV can become more efficient than so-called "shaheed's belt" frequently used by suicide terrorists. A substantial damage can be inflicted, in particular, if a UAV is directed to a crowded place. In addition, UAVs can penetrate to the areas, where suicide terrorists have almost no chance to get to.

Meanwhile, terrorists do not even try to hide their intentions with respect to the use of UAV as a bomb delivery means, stirring up fears in the Israeli media.
As Hezbollah leader Sheik Hassan Nasrallah said after the incident, "Mirsad 1" type UAV flights will continue, such a drone "can be laden with a quantity of explosives, 40 to 50 kilograms" and reach "anywhere, deep, deep" into Israel.

So where did these little planes come from? Hezbollah likely got them from Iran. But where did Iran get them? Did they build them themselves based on approximations of plans for the Hunter? Or did they maybe buy them from a South African company and pass them along to Hezbollah? I at least think that's an interesting question.

Me & a plane kite