Official: Iran among Top 10 World Drone Manufacturers
“The Islamic Republic of Iran is among the top 10 world states in area of drone manufacturing,” Saeedi said, addressing a ceremony in the Northwestern city of Ardebil on Sunday.
Noting that many military experts and commanders believe that Iran is among the few countries which have made such an astonishing progress in building drones, he expressed confidence that the country would still improve its position in the field in future.
Iran in October 2016 unveiled its latest drone product in a ceremony in the presence of Commander of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) Aerospace Force Brigadier General Amir Ali Hajizadeh.
“The drone, Saeqeh (Thunderbolt) is Iran’s latest pilotless plane from Simorgh (Phoenix) class and enjoys the capability to simultaneously strike at four targets with smart bombs that have pinpoint precision-striking capability in far distances,” Hajizadeh said, addressing the ceremony in Tehran.
Noting that Iran is now standing among the first four world states in developing drones, he said, “The Americans are on par with us in certain (drone building) fields, including production of stealth and bomber drones, and actually, the Americans are trying to stay on par with us in this section.”
General Hajizadeh announced in March 2016 that Iran has decided to call its own version of the US Sentinel spy drone RQ-170 as “Simorgh”.
Iran is now developing Simorgh into a class of drones with reconnaissance, surveillance, combat and bombing capabilities. According to earlier reports, Simorgh drones are equipped with an autopilot capability that brings them back to their airbase if operators lose control or are disconnected from the pilotless aircraft.
In an interview with the state TV, Hajizadeh said the IRGC named its version of the US drone RQ-170 – that was downed and remanufactured through reverse engineering four years ago – “Simorgh”, an Iranian benevolent, mythical flying creature.
The manufacture of the Iranian drone based on the US RQ-170 spying drone, which was captured in 2011 by the IRGC Aerospace Force was a major blow to the US government.
The Iranian version of the RQ-170 drone was manufactured through reverse engineering of the US drone, which was tracked and hunted down in Iran late in 2011, and has been equipped by the IRGC with bombing capability.
Back in October 2013, General Hajizadeh said Iran moved as much as 35 years ahead in building drone engines by reverse engineering of the US drone.
The RQ-170 engines are the fifth generation and the engines of Iranian unmanned planes are the third generation, Hajizadeh said.
Iran has downed many other US drones as well, and they have always started reproducing them immediately after conducting reverse engineering.