Will assault drones become a frequent presence in Mideast skies?

For Israel, countering the threat from the air – especially from non-state actors such as Lebanon’s Iranian-backed Hezbollah – requires superior intelligence, advances in technology and plain old deterrence

Matiga Airport in Tripoli, Libya, briefly closed down this past weekend due to security concerns over an unidentified drone that had entered the area, airport officials say. In recent days, residents have reported that drones are a frequent presence over the Libyan capital.

While unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) are now an element of warfare in the Middle East – Libya has been in the midst of a civil war since 2014 – experts warn that they could become much more prevalent in the years to come. According to a recent report in the Economist, there is an unquenchable thirst for armed drones throughout the region.

One big reason is China, which has flooded the Middle Eastern market with UAVs. The U.S. and other Western governments have sought to limit the proliferation of such technology, but Beijing has been eager to sell cheaper and less sophisticated models. It has already sold such drones to Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and the UAE.

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