War in Ukraine
Hundreds of combat drones against Ukraine? Russian delegation apparently on a shopping spree in Iran
Iran's drones are copies of US models.
2 min reading time
As the US broadcaster CNN reports, a Russian delegation is said to have visited an airfield in Iran twice in the past month to look at combat drones there – Kyiv has to fear that Putin will get hundreds of drones.
US officials have told US broadcaster CNN that Iran began showing combat drones to the Russians at an airfield near Tehran as early as June. Iran denies a planned sale, but US National Security Advisor Sullivan said the Iranian government is preparing to supply Russia with several hundred UAVs, including weapons-capable UAVs. Shahed-191 and Shahed-129v drones are said to have also been demonstrated to the delegation. Similar to the Turkish Baykar Bayraktar TB2 used by Ukraine, they can also use precision missiles (Baykar Bayraktar TB2 – Ukraine's most dangerous weapon originated in Turkey).
"We understand that an official Russian delegation recently received a demonstration of Iranian attack-capable UAVs. We are releasing these images taken in June that show Iranian UAVs seen by the Russian government delegation that day. This indicates an ongoing Russian interested in acquiring Iranian attack-capable UAVs."
Russia is trying to get such drones around the world, but so far in China to no avail. China is by far the world's largest producer of drones. In addition to civilian models, the country also manufactures military drones of all sizes.
Iran's Shahed-191 is based on a captured US RQ-170 Sentinel drone that fell into Tehran's hands in 2011. It should be able to stay in the air for 270 minutes and fly up to 450 kilometers. The drone can also be armed with bombs.
The Shahed-129, on the other hand, looks like a copy of the MQ-9 Reaper, it can carry Sadid-345 guided missiles. This drone can remain in the air for 24 hours.
Simple but numerous
How effective the drones are is controversial among experts. Previous analyzes assumed Israel to be a possible adversary. And Israel should easily be able to fend off some of these drones. But Israel has excellent air defenses, unlike Ukraine. If you don't manage to shoot down the drones, they should be able to do considerable damage. Above all, the number of hundreds of drones mentioned is worrying, which is a completely different dimension than the western arms deliveries to Ukraine.
It is quite possible that Iran can export such quantities. In its armament, Tehran relies on the mass production of long-range weapons such as drones and missiles. The country follows a calculus. The Iranians are aware that their weapon systems cannot technically compete with those from Israel or the USA. But with a mass attack by hundreds of flying objects, even the best defense would be overwhelmed. Some of the weapons used would be shot down, but the majority would hit the target. In addition to drones, Iran has a large arsenal of missiles.
Iran's ability to produce such weapons at all also shows how US sanctions are circumvented. Iran was apparently able to obtain the components required for the electronics despite the embargo.