Commander of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) Aerospace Force Brigadier General Amir Ali Hajizadeh announced plans to boost the service ceiling of Iran-made Shahed 129 Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) up to 60,000 ft (18km).
Hajizadeh made the announcement while explaining the latest achievements of the IRGC Aerospace Force to Supreme Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyed Ali Khamenei in an exhibition of the achievements on Sunday.
“Increasing the service ceiling of Shahed 129 drone up to 50,000 ft or 60,000 ft (about 18 km) is on agenda,” Hajizadeh said during the Supreme Leader’s two-hour tour of the IRGC’s Aerospace Exhibition where state-of-the-art equipment and hardware were showcased.
In Sepetember 2012, Commander of the IRGC Major General Mohammad Ali Jafari announced that his forces have built Shahed 129 drone with missile capability.
Iran has recently made giant advancements in aerospace industries, specially in designing and manufacturing pilotless drones.
In September 2012, Iran announced that it has started using UAVs in its air defense units as part of its broader plans for strengthening the country’s air defense capability.
In December 2013, Commander of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps Major General Mohammad Ali Jafari said the IRGC is capable of mounting guided missiles and bombs on its drones.
“We have recently acquired the capability to mount guided and precision-targeting missiles with pinpointing capability and bombs on drones, which is actually among branches of advanced hi-tech in this field,” Jafari told reporters in Tehran in December.
He referred to Iran’s latest achievements in building drones, and said, “Our latest achievement in this regard is a drone which can fly for 30 hours and high-speed engines can increase its range.”
Also in November, Iranian Defense Minister Brigadier General Hossein Dehqan announced that Iran’s new drone enjoys unique strategic capabilities, including 30-hour-long flight durability, and has been developed for combat and surveillance missions.
Dehqan said the new drone, ‘Fotros’, has been designed and built by the Iranian Airplane Manufacturing Industries Company affiliated to the Defense Ministry’s Aviation Industries in cooperation with knowledge-based companies and academic centers and on the basis of the needs of the country’s Armed Forces.
“This strategic drone has an operational range of 2,000 kilometers, and can fly to a ceiling of 25,000 feet in altitude for 16 to 30 hours, and these specifications enable it to conduct combat missions in addition to surveillance and reconnaissance missions,” Dehqan said addressing a ceremony held in Tehran to unveil the new drone.
The minister said Fotros can be armed with various types of “air-to-surface missiles and rockets”.
He underlined that the reliability test of the drone has been successfully conducted in the country’s laboratories and test centers, including standard international land tests at low, medium and high speed, adding that test results have been even better than what was expected.
The minister further pointed to the missions which could be done by Fotros in detail, and said the drone can be used for “protecting land and sea borders, monitoring oil pipelines, telecommunication lines and road traffic control, monitoring affected areas during earthquakes, blaze and floods, and environment protection”, adding that it can send “real-time photos and images while it is on a missions”.
He reiterated that Iran’s Defense Ministry has become self-sufficient in designing and manufacturing different kinds of defensive, offensive and surveillance drones.
General Dehqan underlined that Iranian researchers were then working on various models and designs of drones according to the country’s defensive needs.
In March 2013, Iran displayed its advanced home-made combat drone, Karrar, in camouflage color and armed with anti-aircraft missiles in an Exhibition in Tehran on Saturday.
Karrar was displayed during Iranian President Hassan Rouhani’s visit to the Defense Industries Exhibition.
Karrar is capable of carrying a military payload of 500 kilograms to carry out bombing missions against ground targets. It is also capable of flying long distances at very high speed.
The drone has a flying range of 1,000 kilometers and a top speed of 900 kilometers per hour.