TEL AVIV (Dec. 17)
Israel has admitted that pilotless planes are in use by its air force. The admission came after such a plane was downed Thursday by Egyptian forces. According to the Egyptian announcement an “Israeli spy plane in the southern Suez Canal area was shot down by anti-aircraft fire.” An Israeli spokesman reporting on the incident did not reveal the type of plane involved nor any other details. Until this incident Israel declined to make any statements about the pilotless planes despite American reports that such planes have been in operation for some time.
It is known here that the U.S. has over a period of several years developed several types of pilotless planes. The model best known is the “Firebee,” produced and developed by the San Diego firm, Ryan Aeronautics Co. The various “drones” of the Firebee type are developed according to the tasks they will have to perform. target sighting, pathfinding, reconnaissance and photographing. Usually the Firebee is launched from a mother carrier–normally from a Hercules transport which Israel possesses–and is recovered with the aid of a helicopter.