Iranian UAVs

Persian Gulf

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I don't see a thread for Iranian drones and drones are a major priority in Iran so I think this deserves its own thread.

Iran's drone programme started during the imposed Iran-Iraq war with very basic Mohajer drones for recon, shortly followed by other similar UAVs such as Ababil.

Since then, however, Iran has become a true drone power in the region (and, in my opinion, beyond). The lack of a functional modern air force (inability to import modern jets due to sanctions) means that Iran was forced to divert funds into drones instead, and now this is bearing fruit. This was helped hugely by Iran capturing a full ensemble of Israeli and US drones, such as the ScanEagle, RQ-170, Hermes 450, MQ-1 Predator, etc.

I will make specific posts in subsequent posts of this thread for each of the main and most advanced drones in Iran's arsenal (Saeqeh, Simorgh, S-129, Fotros etc).

Here is a video of recent large-scale drone drills in the Persian Gulf, featuring more than 50 Iranian drones over a large area:

 
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Persian Gulf

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Shahed-129:

S-129 is Iran's primary MALE UCAV, in operation since 2012. Up to 40 are in service with the IRGC (of various generations).

S-129 has a range of 3000km and carries 4 precision-guided Sadid bombs (6km range and 2.5m CEP).

The second/third generations are equipped with SATCOM capability (not clear whose satellites this uses).

The S-129 has seen extensive combat in Syria (including the 2nd/3rd gen SATCOM variants), being used on a regular basis against Daesh terrorists.



 

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Saeqeh/Saegheh:

The Saeqeh is based on the captured US RQ-170 UAV (a secret CIA stealth UAV captured by Iran in 2011), but it is a smaller UCAV version (60% scale) with a wingspan of 7m. In operation since 2016, this is arguably Iran's most potent UCAV and dozens have been produced to date.

The Saeqeh carries two precision-guided Sadid bombs in its internal weapons bay, takes off from moving vehicles (see 1.10 and 1.42 in the video in the top post) and has retractable landing skids (no wheels).

The design and size of the Saeqeh gives it a very low RCS.

The Saeqeh has been used to conduct targeted strikes in Syria in October 2018 (taking off from and returning to Iran, suggesting a range of >1000km - in the video below from 1.05). A Saeqeh drone is also thought to have been shot down by an Israeli helicopter after entering Israel's airspace from Syria in February 2018.

Service ceiling: 25,000 feet
Cruise speed: 300 km/h



7307


 
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Simorgh S-171:

The S-171 is a full-scale UAV copy of the RQ-170 and it is a jet-powered flying wing design. It was first unveiled in 2015 and shown flying in 2016.

Not much else is known about the s-171 and it is not clear that it is operational yet, though full-size models are often displayed at military exhibitions and there is footage of a flying model from 2016. It is possible that there are still issues being refined, or it is too expensive to mass produce, or not needed currently, or simply a test bed of future technologies.

 

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Fotros:

The Fotros drone is a competitor to the S-129, built by the Air Force (not IRGC) and first shown in 2013. It has a range of 2000km. It can likely carry the Akhgar cruise missile (27kg, 30km range).

However, despite the Fotros being a proven platform it appears that the S-129 is preferred and the Fotros has been shelved as a result (likely because the s-129 is cheaper and more cost-effective). At least a few were definitely built and the project could be resurrected in the future, although the improved and battle-tested s-129 makes this unlikely.



 

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Others:

Other key drones include the Mohajer-6, Hamaseh, s-123 (replaced by s-129) and Yasir (as well as various target drones and suicide drones, such as the Karrar and Qasef).

Mohajer-6 is the latest generation of the Mohajer series of UAV/UCAVs. The Mohajer UAV was Iran's first UAVs used in combat, used during the 1980-1988 Iran-Iraq war for surveillance. Since then several upgraded versions have been introduced and mass-produced, most recently the Mohajer 6, which has been mass-produced since early 2018. The Mohajer-6 can be used for surveillance or targeted strikes using 2x Qaem laser-guided bombs.

The Yasir is a reverse-engineered ScanEagle drone, first captured in 2012 and revealed in late 2013. Dozens have been produced.



 

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There are dozens more drones and drone projects in Iran (realised and unrealised) but I think my posts above covered the main and most advanced ones.

Let the debate begin? :cool:
 
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