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PAF BASE CHAKLALA, June 10: Chief of the Air Staff, Air Chief Marshall Mushaff Ali Mir, on Monday said the Unmanned Air Vehicle (UAV) shot down by Pakistan Air Force near Kasur was an Israeli spy plane launched from Indian territory.

He said the spy plane was being operated by Israelis and had manufacturing signatures of Israel Aircraft Industries.

The Air Chief said the spy plane did not have any Indian markings. “It was an Israeli UAV. The Israeli operatives were using it for India.”

Talking to journalists while reviewing the wreckage of the UAV recently moved to Chaklala Air Base for research and analysis, the Air Chief said Israel was directly helping India to gather spy information about Pakistan. He said the available evidence suggested the UAV was inducted during the last couple of months in a hurry.

Air chief Marshal Mushaff Ali Mir said spying was a normal practice during wartime and PAF was fully vigilant and prepared to counter the enemy moves.

Earlier, Wing Commander Shoaib told Dawn the wreckage was a concrete evidence of Indo-Israel collaboration against Pakistan. Quoting reports, he said India had purchased 25 UAVs from Israel. He said the Searcher Mark-II downed by the PAF was estimated to be worth US$1.5 million, with an avionics component of 0.7 million.

Replying to a question, he said Squadron Leader Zulfiqar of the F-16 Squadron shot the UAV at 13,000 feet.

PAF officials said the Searcher Mk II is an operational, advanced fourth generation UAV system derived from the third generation original Searcher. The drone has enhanced tactical multi-payload UAV system for surveillance, reconnaissance, target-acquisition and artillery adjustment.

The drone, the officials said, has real-time payload and UAV control, GPS based interruptible airborne mission controller with real-time manual interrupt capability and autonomous return on data link loss.

The Searcher Mk II has a maximum take-off weight of 426 kilogrammes and maximum payload weight of 100 kilogrammes. Powered by a rotary engine of 73 hp, the downed UAV had overall length of 19.20 feet and wingspan of 28.10 feet.

Capable of automatic take-off and landing, Searcher Mk II has an endurance of 15 hours at an altitude of 20,000 feet with a range of 200 kilometres.

The Searcher MK II has direct line-of-sight datalink, UAV airborne data relay for beyond-line-of-sight data link, dual real-time command uplink and single real-time data and video downlink ability.

Replying to a question about the type of information which could be gathered about Pakistan by the spy plane, Squadron Leader Rizwan said the infra red lens and processor of the downed UAV was capable of taking highly sensitive pictures and do reconnaissance for artillery. However, he said, the UAV was spotted by the mobile observation units when it crossed into Pakistani territory and was immediately gunned down.

Officials said the UAV surveillance could help the accuracy of the enemy artillery by transmitting real-time pictures to its base, by satellite as well, for assessing and adjusting the artillery fire accordingly.

Talking about the Indo Israeli nexus, a defence sources told Dawn a subsidiary of Israel Aircraft Industry, Malat, has an office in New Delhi.

About the background of Israel Aircraft Industries, sources said it was established in 1953 and worked closely with the Israeli Air Force (IAF) to meet its needs. With the support of David Ben-Gurion, Israel’s first Prime Minister, and Shimon Peres, then Director General of the Ministry of Defence, an American Jew helped to create the foundation of Israel Aircraft Industries.

Giving background of Indo-Israeli collaboration in defence matters, sources said, on one occasion, Sibat, the foreign defence assistance and defence export organization of the Israeli defence ministry, had appointed over 50 agents in New Delhi to sell various defence items to India. Israel, sources said, had offered India cruise missile technology for unmanned reconnaissance aircraft, joint development of Searcher UAV and an Israeli secure digital data link to India’s MiGs.

PAF officials said the research and analysis of the downed UAV by engineers would help PAF take a quantum leap of eight to 10 years in the UAV technological expertise.