US, Britain Spies on Israeli Air Force for 18 Years

Cracked Encryption, Watching for Potential Attacks on Iran

US and British intelligence managed to crack a top encryption system for Israel’s Air Force decades ago, and for the past 18 years the two have been intercepting communication from them en masse, in what Israeli officials are describing as the worst leak in their history.

Much of the initial reporting centered on the nations capturing live feeds of Israeli surveillance drones, so as to see what the Israeli drones see, along with the drones’ flight path around Israel and the surrounding area.

It goes deeper than that though, covering transmissions from manned aircraft and base-to-base communication around Israel, which the US and Britain were said to have carefully monitored for signs of a unilateral Israeli attack on Iran.

The discovery was initially broken by The Intercept, by way of Edward Snowden, who provided video stills of the drones. The communications were captured at a listening post on Cyprus. The White House has refused to comment, but did say it only spies when it has a good reason to.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is senior editor of