Iran’s drone capabilities are increasing as Iran’s Ministry of Defense showcased a variety of new achievements with unmanned aerial vehicles.

An article at Fars News says that Iran is increasing its abilities to become one of the “top five countries in the world in the field of combat drones.” It is investing in precision bombs, better guidance and also other “leaps forward.”

It was not clear when the exhibition took place but Fars News devoted a large segment to looking at the new capabilities of Iran’s weapons which could threaten the US, Israel and allies in the region.

What is important in Iran is to showcase standardization and mass production of several successful and historic lines of drones, including the Ababil series, the Muhajer and now the Karar and Fotros.

The Karar is actually a kind of cruise missile or kamikaze drone whereas the Fotros looks like it was designed as a copy of Israel’s IAI Heron.

Many Iranian drone models are copies of US drones that Iran has captured, although it has also built copies of Israeli drones and weapons. Iran’s original 1980s drones were relatively innovative and unique, but Iran now realizes that US models, such as the Predator and Sentinel, or the Elbit Hermes 450 from Israel, have elements that Iran wants, either for propaganda reasons or airworthiness.

What has Iran achieved now? It claims it now has a retractable landing gear for the rarely seen Fotros.

A new prototype, based on a 2013 version, is flying. Iran displayed the new drone with a bunch of existing models as if it was part of a kind of safari of military equipment.

Oddly the Ministry left it to Fars News to speculate on the abilities of these drones. In this case the media says that Iran has achieved new types of missiles, including “vertical armor-piercing bombs.”

We’ve seen these tested before, and they are also copies of foreign munitions. Iran says it has also upgraded its Mohajer-6, part of the family of drones in this class.

The dual-take drone is also a copy of foreign models, perhaps based on the Denel Dynamics Seeker from South Africa, which itself is based on Israeli successes with similar style drones.

Iran has kitted the Mohajer 6 out with bombs under each wing now and has published video of them striking targets. Iran says it used them against Kurdish dissident groups.

Tehran also says its Karar drone, which is basically a cruise missile, can fly some 900 km now with a 250 kg warhead. Iran has invested in what it calls a Simorgh bomb.

There is some lack of clarity about this term because Simorgh is also the name of a launch vehicle Iran uses and it is supposedly a class of drones as well.

Iran says it put an MK-82 bomb on this drone with a guidance kit. Bizarrely Iran seems to have basically taken a drone whose origins go back to the V-1 and the Teledyne Ryan Firebee and lashed a bomb onto it.

This is odd because they could just use this drone as a cruise missile, because it doesn’t seem to be able to return to base anyway.

There is lack of clarity about what Iran seeks to achieve using its increasing investment in these kinds of kamikaze drones. It used them against Saudi Arabia last September, and they are effective.

However, it’s unclear why it would put more munitions on them. Iran seems to want to experiment with adding more bombs and guidance to its growing arsenal until it finds the right mix for drones and loitering munitions and cruise missiles.
The overall goal is to give the country a large number of abilities to threaten sophisticated adversaries such as the US and Israel by being able to fields maneuverable munitions that also have their own bombs attached.

Iran may sense that western air defense systems will have difficulty dealing with a complex threat like this. It is already known Iran pioneered precision guided munitions, adding these capabilities to drones seems to be what it is moving toward.

Source » jpost