Israeli newspaper The Jerusalem Post has published articles on Iran’s growing drone power in the wake of a sophisticated attack on an Israeli-managed petroleum product tanker off the coast of Oman.
Israeli foreign minister Yair Lapid pointed the finger at Iran after the Liberian-flagged Mercer Street, which was travelling from Tanzania to the UAE, was hit near the Omani island of Masirah late on Thursday.
Citing two unnamed officials, The New York Times claimed that the raid, which killed two crew members, “appeared to have been carried out by several unmanned Iranian drones that crashed into living quarters underneath the ship’s command center, or bridge."
The Jerusalem Post reported that the incident “looks like a serious and complex attack that is not just a major escalation, but a new use of Iran drone technology.”
“The reported use of numerous drones against the Mercer Street could mark a new era in the Middle East and a major red line as drones are being used against ships. Using several drones to precisely target parts of the ship, such as the bridge or living quarters, may indicate advanced surveillance and intelligence,” it said.
“It is not clear if Iran’s drones can be piloted once they are launched by a ground control station. That means that an attack on a ship is complex because ships move and it’s unclear how Iran might program the drones to strike the ship precisely. Even at anchor a ship will shift around with the tide or wind. So how could the drone target specific areas, unless it was controlled up until the impact?” it added. “If Iran has reached a new level of precision drone strikes and is using them against shipping in deadly attacks, this is a major milestone. “
The report also noted that Iran has been increasing its drone abilities in recent years and that it has a large number of militarized UAVs.
“This shows how Iranian drones and drone technology are now a major emerging threat from Lebanon all the way through Syria and Iraq to the Persian Gulf and then to the Gulf of Oman and Yemen, stretching thousands of miles and potentially putting ships and forces from the US and many allies and partners in danger,” it said.
In an article published on July 16, the Israeli Haaretz newspaper said, “Tehran’s growing use of drones reflects an old Iranian ethos of combining technological progress with self-reliance.”