Russians learn how to work with Iranian drones
A senior US administration official told CNN that Russian crews have begun training on Iranian-made drones.
The Russian embassy in Washington declined to comment on this information. Earlier, the press representative of the President of the Russian Federation D. Peskov, answering a question about Iranian drones, said: no comment.
In June, a Russian delegation twice visited the Iranian military drone base Kashan, south of Tehran. After that, there were reports of a deal for the supply of Iranian drones to Russia. Iran denies this information.
On July 8 and 24, Il-76TD of the Iranian airline Pouya Air, affiliated with the IRGC and under US sanctions, visited Vnukovo for transporting weapons to Iranian proxies. The plane stayed at the airport for only two hours.
On July 27, a Boeing 747 of the Iranian airline Qeshm Fars Air, also affiliated with the IRGC and previously supplied Ethiopia with reconnaissance and strike UAVs Mohajer-6, visited Moscow.
On Thursday, August 4, Aleksey Arestovich, a luminary of the President’s Office, stated that the RF Armed Forces use Iranian drones against the Armed Forces of Ukraine. According to him, the Russian military received 46 drones. He did not name the models of the drones, but noted that they were UAVs of a “very previous generation.”
“They can solve some of their tasks, because in this war, children’s quadrocopters also solve problems with homemade grabs and throwing grenades,” Arestovich said.
The Institute for the Study of War (ISW) also believes that Iran may have sent drones to Russia.
“Iran sent a batch of UAVs to Russia along with Iranian pilots and technicians who will be trained in the use and repair of Russian Su-35 aircraft,” ISW said, citing unconfirmed reports.
At the same time, for the first time, the possibility of transferring Iranian drones to the RF Armed Forces was discussed in the United States. In mid-July, US national security adviser Jake Sullivan said that, according to US intelligence, Iran plans to supply Russia with hundreds of drones – some of them with combat potential – for use in the war against Ukraine.
At the same time, Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein-Amir Abdollahian said that his state avoids any actions that could lead to further escalation in Ukraine, including the supply of military equipment.
“We have defense agreements with Russia, but we will not help any of the parties involved in this conflict,” Abdollahian said.
The topic of Iranian drones again rose in the Ukrainian media at the end of July. According to rumors, Iran delivered to Ukraine Shahed 129 heavy attack drones, which definitely cannot be called “children’s quadrocopters”, if only because in many respects it is not inferior to the American Predator and the Chinese Wing Loong II.
Since, for a number of reasons, Iran cannot produce full-fledged combat aircraft, the country’s leadership decided to focus on creating unmanned aerial vehicles. Work in this direction began in the mid-eighties. To date, Iran is producing UAVs of all major classes, from light tactical reconnaissance vehicles to heavy reconnaissance and strike systems. In the development of drones, Iran was guided both by its own developments and “borrowed” successful ideas from the Americans and Israelis.
In particular, it is believed that one of the most massive Iranian reconnaissance UAVs, Yasir, is a converted version of the intercepted American Boeing ScanEagle. It has fairly compact dimensions (wingspan 3 meters, weight 19 kilograms), which makes it very mobile. Yasir has a piston engine that can accelerate it to 100 kilometers per hour.
The drone is equipped with a high-resolution electro-optical camera equipped with an infrared sensor. This allows it to be used in low visibility conditions. In addition, the UAV is equipped with radar equipment, which allows it to detect air targets within a radius of 150 kilometers.
The only significant drawback of the drone is the need to use a special pneumatic catapult, since it simply does not have a chassis.
Iran is also developing a whole family of medium-sized Ababil UAVs, the development of which has been going on since the mid-eighties. It currently includes three main models and several of their modifications. At the moment, the most interesting is Ababil-3, which is a complete redesign of Ababil with an improved airframe. The wingspan of Ababil-3 is about 7 meters compared to 3 meters for Ababil-2. The UAV airframe is made of composite materials. Ababil-3 uses an engine from the German company Limbach Flugmotoren (or its Chinese clones).
The maximum flight speed of Ababil-3 is 200 kilometers per hour, and the range is 100 kilometers. Practical ceiling – 5000 meters. As a target load, an optoelectronic station with real-time data transmission is used.
If we talk about strike UAVs, then Iran will also have interesting developments. For example, in February 2018, Iran launched mass production of Mohajer-6 tactical drones.
At the opening ceremony, Defense Minister Amir Khatami said that the drone has a wide operational range and is capable of long flights, which can help the country’s armed forces in reconnaissance, surveillance, and combat missions. With its own weight of 600 kilograms, it is capable of carrying 100 kilograms of payload. It can include Almas guided missiles or Qaem bombs. In addition, some sources indicate that the drone can be equipped with electronic support or electronic warfare.
Also in service is the same heavy reconnaissance and strike UAV Shahed 129, allegedly already participating in hostilities in Ukraine . At the same time, Shahed 129 can be in flight for up to 24 hours.
As for the warhead, the drone can carry a bomb and missile load. This gives him the ability to hit ground, air and sea targets. Shahed 129 has rather large dimensions (length 7.8 meters, wingspan 12.5 meters), however, since it is able to fly at an altitude of up to 9 thousand meters, it cannot be visually detected, which provides stealth to the drone.
Shahed 129 is equipped with tracking cameras, which include an electro-optical camera with high resolution and zoom capabilities, as well as an infrared camera, which allows you to receive information about the terrain and objects even in conditions of poor visibility.
The UAV develops speed up to 170 kilometers per hour. The maximum range of its flight is 350 kilometers.
Also of interest are Iranian stealth drones Shahed Saegheh and Shahed 171 copied from the American RQ-170 UAV. The mass of Shahed 171 reaches three tons, and the combat radius is approaching 2 thousand kilometers. According to various sources, Shahed Saegheh and Shahed 171 are equipped with an optical-electronic station and can carry weapons. In addition, Shahed 171 stealth drones could be used to attack Islamic State terrorists in Syria.