Israel Aircraft Industries (IAI) sources say the air force's recently delivered Heron 1 UAVs (shown) performed "beyond expectation" during the war, and demonstrated the full extent of the type's endurance while flying day and night missions over enemy territory. Heron air vehicles flew hundreds of sorties and amassed thousands of flight hours carrying 250kg (550lb) payloads comprising a variety of sensors.
Those payloads also included weapons necessary for "precision attack missions", which is to say robot-fired missile attacks from the sky.
But the really amazing thing is that Hezbollah had already prepared anti-robot-plane countermeasures;
Sources say Hezbollah was ready for the UAVs and in many cases camouflaged rocket launchers, particularly with the use of special "carpets" that absorbed the sun's heat and radiated it at night to affect the efficiency of Israeli thermal sensors. "In many cases we had to detect the launch flash to determine the location of the launcher," says an air force source.
For all their success, the UAVs weren't perfect:
Three Hermes 450s crashed during the war: two as a result of technical problems and one due to operator error, with air force Lockheed Martin F-16 fighters having subsequently bombed the wreckage.
Got that? The role of the human air force is to bomb the wreckage when the robot air force goes wrong, so as to keep the technology out of enemy hands. The future is already here, it's just not evenly distributed.