Unmanned Syrian MIG-21 could carry chemical weapons

Syria's air force may have adapted an old Russian-made MiG-21 fighter to be able to fly unmanned and carry chemical weapons, according to an unconfirmed Israeli intelligence report.

The aircraft in question was discovered on June 21 when a Syrian pilot colonel took off from al-Dumair military airport and landed at King Hussein Airbase. Hassan Hamada, the pilot, then requested political asylum and Syria heavily pressured Jordan to return the MiG-21, Flight Global reports.

Intelligence sources report that the aircraft was fitted with a remote control system with the ability to carry and dispense chemical warfare agents.

Tal Inbar, a senior researcher at Israel's Fisher Institute for Air and Space Strategic Studies, said that adaptations like this were previously made in other countries such as Iraq. Inbar said there is no hard evidence that Syria actually modified an old MiG-21 to take part in unmanned missions with chemical materials.

Israel's air force recently expressed worry about Syria's chemical weapons stockpile. Maj. Gen. Amir Eshel said that the deteriorating state of Syria is creating many security threats extremely close to Israel.

"We don't know what will happen the day after Assad falls," Eshel said, according to Flight Global. "We are preparing ourselves for this, and for the eventuality of weapons flowing out of Syria."

Recent intelligence reports found evidence that Syrian engineers loaded sarin-related chemicals into bombs that could be used by fighter aircraft.