Basij Commander: Iran Has Secret Drone Program
Commander of Iran’s Basij (volunteer) Force Brigadier General Mohammad Reza Naqdi revealed on Thursday that Iran is manufacturing new types of drones that enjoy unique technologies, adding that the pilotless aircraft have been developed under a secret program.
“We build drones that are unique and exclusively owned by Iran and no one is informed of them,” Naqdi said, addressing a gathering in the Northern city of Rasht on Thursday.
The top commander declined to make any further comments or information about the drone technology.
In recent years, Iran has made great achievements in aerospace sector, including drone designing and manufacturing.
Late in August, Managing-Director of the Iranian Aviation Industries Organization (IAIO) Manouchehr Manteqi said Russia has asked for import of Iranian drone technology.
“The Islamic Republic of Iran is known as an advanced country in the field of (building) drones,” Manteqi told FNA on the sidelines of the MAKS 2015 air show in the town of Zhukovsky near Moscow.
He underlined that the Russians plan to transfer the technology of building one of Iran’s drones to their country, but he declined to reveal any further details.
“We are discussing this issue now,” he just said.
In relevant remarks on Monday, Iranian Ground Force Commander Brigadier General Ahmad Reza Pourdastan announced that some updates had been carried out on home-made drones to increase their capability for loading more weapons.
“We have done a special task on the drones which has improved the precision striking, range and flight duration of the Ground Force’s drones; therefore, our drones are can now conduct the needed missions according to the Ground Force’s daily needs,” Pourdastan said.
“With the help of the Ground Force’s experts, the necessary ground has been prepared in the drone systems to enable them carry heavier loads of weapons and we aim to use these drones in rapid reaction drills to be staged in the current year,” he added.
Pourdastan said that the Ground Force’s drones can be remote-controlled, while they are also equipped with auto-pilot systems and can attack hostile ground and air targets at different levels.
Also last month, Iranian Defense Minister Brigadier General Hossein Dehqan announced the country’s plans to equip its drones with the home-made powerful and high-precision air-based Nasr cruise missile.
Dehqan made the remarks in Tehran, addressing the inauguration ceremony of Nasr missile production line.
“Using the air-based Nasr missile by the Army and the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC)’s Air Forces will remarkably increase their operational and tactical power,” he said.
He said that the Nasr missile is equipped with a high-precision radar which enables it to trace and intercept targets, adding that after being fired from fighter jets, Nasr doesn’t need any backup and the fighter jet can leave the danger zone immediately.
Noting that the Nasr missile can be mounted on different types of fighter jets, he announced Iran’s future plan to equip its home-made drones with the air-based missile.
The Islamic Republic has so far unveiled various domestically produced drones, including Ababil, Fotros, Hazem, Karrar (long range attack drone), Mohajer, Sarir, Shahed 129, Yasir and Zohal.
A senior Iranian commander announced in October that the IRGC Ground Force is finalizing manufacture of a new homemade drone armed with the RPG (rocket-propelled grenade).
Commander of the IRGC Ground Forces Brigadier General Mohammad Pakpour said at the time that the combat drone would carry the RPG with no Backblast.
Pakpour also noted that the drone has passed the tests and will be completed in the near future.
Iran unveiled its first homemade fighter drone that carries air-to-air missiles last September.
The Iranian media outlets reported that the drone is capable of destroying all types of aircrafts including fighters, small Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) and helicopters.
The country unveiled its first domestically manufactured long-range UAV named Karrar in 2010. The first Iranian medium-altitude long-endurance UAV, the Shahed-129 was unveiled in September 2012, which is capable of carrying out combat and reconnaissance eight missions for 24 hours and has a range of 1,700 km.
The country also unveiled its largest yet homemade UAV, titled ‘Fotros’ in 2013. Fotros has a range of some 2,000 kilometers and is capable of launching air-to-surface missile strikes. The drone can fly at an altitude of 25,000 feet, with a flight time of 16 to 30 hours.
Iran started mass production of the “Yasir” UAV in September 2013. Yasir can fly at an altitude of 15,000 ft., be in flight for eight hours, cover the distance of 200 km, and does not need a runway. The UAV is equipped with light powerful modern cameras, and can precisely control the target.
Commander of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) Aerospace Force Brigadier General Amir Ali Hajizadeh underlined in November that the country’s capabilities in building different types of UAVs, and said the range of Iran-made drones has increased to 3,000km.
Hajizadeh referred to the country’s first drone, Mohajer, and said, “Mohajer could fly 3,000km since the beginning.”
“But today, the operational range of all the different types of (home-made) drones used for different missions has also increased to 3,000km which is means a major step in the self-sufficiency of our defense industries.”
Also in November 2014, Hajizadeh announced that four Iran-made RQ-170 drones – manufactured through the reverse engineering of a similar American pilotless plane that was downed by Iran in 2011, would start operational flights by the end of the current Iranian year (ends March 20, 2015).
“We have plans to bring into operation, at least, four indigenized RQ-170 drones for missions by the end of this (Iranian) year (March 20),” Brigadier General Hajizadeh said after the state-run TV displayed the footages of the first flight of an Iran-made RQ-170 drone.
“We will not extradite the US RQ-170 drone since it is a (war) trophy, but if the US sanctions against Iran are lifted, maybe we will give the US an Iranian model of the drone,” Hajizadeh added.
He said that the Iranian version of the RQ-170 has been built through a combination of the US designs and ideas and those of the Iranian experts.