EU Universities are helping Iran regime drone program
Iran stands today as a formidable drone power despite the strictures of a UN arms embargo. Iran has invested heavily in domestic drone manufacturing and benefitted from accessible technological advances in the commercial drone market. This has enabled the country to acquire an arsenal of unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) systems which have wreaked havoc around the Middle East.
Iran has used drones to harass the US naval presence around the Persian Gulf, augment its influence in Syria and Iraq, and attack or threaten the critical infrastructure of US allies in the region.
Iran’s conventional air power has been rendered virtually obsolete due to financial impacts and procurement issues caused by sanctions. Investing in UAV technologies and production is therefore a strategic priority for regime leaders, giving Tehran an alternate means for long-range airstrikes.
Drones are particularly advantageous as they are cheaper to build and maintain than manned combat aircraft and can have longer flight endurance, greater maneuverability, and lower observability.
The dangers posed by Iran’s UAV program are amplified by Tehran sharing its advancements with its regional proxies, effectively gifting them with an instant air force. Iran-backed terrorist militias like Hezbollah and the Houthis boast the most active and sophisticated UAV programs among non-state actors, thanks to Iran’s success in smuggling drones and components to them as well as training them on their manufacture and operation.
Shahed-129 – Iran claims that the Shahed-129 UCAV has a 2,000-kilo-meter range and is capable of conducting both reconnaissance and combat missions. It reportedly has a flight endurance of 24 hours and can carry up to eight missiles. The Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) put the Shahed-129 into service in 2012.13 It may be modeled on the U.S. Predator drone or the Israeli Hermes drone. It is propeller driven.
Saegheh-2.The Saegheh armed drone and its variants, such as the newer Shahed-171, are believed to be modeled on the U.S. RQ -170 Sentinel low-ob-servable UAV.16 The Iranians reportedly recovered an RQ -170 in Iran in 2011.17 The Saegheh is a “medium-range combat reconnaissance” UAV and can reportedly be armed with four bombs or missiles and possibly carry an integrated explosive.18 Power plants include jet or piston engines, depend-ing on the version of the drone.19 Iran claims that the Saegheh-2 has seen combat service in Syria.20 A Saegheh-2 or a variant, “armed with explosives,” was shot down in Israel in 2018.21
Sadegh-1. Iranian official media reports for this UCAV state: “Its flight ceiling is 15,000 feet or 4,000 meters. It has a speed of 200 kilometers per hour, a mass of 242 kilograms, six hours flight endurance, and an operational radius of 200 kilometers.”22 This drone can reportedly carry two weapons and was reportedly unveiled in 2014.23 It appears to be propeller driven.24
Mojaher-6.The Iran Defense Ministry unveiled the Mojaher-6 UCAV in 2016, putting the armed drone into serial production in 2018.25 This medium-altitude, long-endurance drone has an endurance of 16–24 hours, depending on payload, and earlier versions had a range limited to 150 kilo-meters due to line-of-sight control restrictions.26 The IRGC now claims the latest version of the Mojaher-6 has a range of 2,000 kilometers, a ceiling of 18,000 feet, and a maximum speed of 200 kilometers per hour.27 It can carry at least two weapons and is propeller driven.
Qasef-1.The Houthi Qasef-1 armed drone and its variants are believed to be based on the Iranian Ababil drone, assembled from components acquired from sources outside Yemen, likely Iran.29 It can carry a 100-pound warhead to a range of 150 kilometers and is propeller driven.30Due to these system’s potential asymmetric military advantage and the increasing confidence Iran places in them, Iran can be expected to continue to add armed drones to its fleet and develop new and improved systems.
# Research at Iranian universities
Research for Iranian drones are also conducted at Iranian universities. The Isfahan University of Technology (UIT) is closely related to AEOI. IUT includes the Nuclear Technology Center (INTC) (run by the AEOI) with an estimated 3,000 scientists. INTC has many nuclear functions including Uranium enrichment. INTC Operates three small nuclear research reactors supplies by China.
According to reports Arya UAV is designed by students of Isfahan University of Technology.
According to Najafi, a professor of Isfahan University of Technology, mentioned that devising science policies and technical knowledge production in areas such as public architecture of avionics and drone as well as manufacturing of several unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) to meet the country’s demands. He called for more activities in designing the avionics of commercial, passenger and relief aircraft.
# Partners of Isfahan University of Technology
Despite working with Atomic Energy Organizations of Iran (AEOI), Defense Industries Organization (DIO) and terrorist organization IRGC, according to Isfahan University of Technology official website they are collaborating with:
– Lethbridge College
– Shenzen Technology University
– University of Florence
– IUT and Sabaanci University Nanotechnology Research and Application Center
– IUT And Zurich University of Applied Sciences
– IUT And University of L-Aquila (Italy)
– IUT And CAS
– IUT And Slaerno (Italy)
– IUT And Universite De Sherbrooke (Canada)
– IUT And Polytechnic University of Madrid
– IUT and University of Brescia (Italy)
– IUT and Lulea University of Technology (LTU) Sweden
– IUT and German Institute of Food Technologies (DIL)
– IUT and Sigma Clermont, France
– IUT and the Ecole nationale d’ingenieurs de Brest
– IUT and International center for Relatevistic Astrophysics Network
– IUT and the regional center on Urban Water Management
– IUT and North – Caucasus Federal University
– IUT and Cheikh Anta Diop University of Senegal
– IUT and Ulsan insitute of South Korea
– IUT and INFN Italy
– IUT and ETH-Zurich
– IUT and ParisTech
– IUT and University of Sulaimani
– IUT and University of Koya, Iraq
– IUT and University of Passau, Germany
– IUT and Kurdistan Institution for Strategic Studies
– IUT and the Xiamen University of China
– IUT and Taiwan National University of Science and Technology
– IUT and the Alliance of 4 Universities of Spain
– Fulda University
# Who uses Iranian Drones
Iran is building drones not only for its military and paramilitary forces’ use to defend the country, but also to support its allies and proxies in an effort to advance Iranian political-military interests.
Hamas, the Palestinian terrorist group and ally of Iran, has also embraced military drones to add an element of air power to its arsenal, diversifying its threat to its opponents.
Hezbollah, the Lebanese terrorist group and Iran’s Shia ally and proxy, also poses an armed drone threat, having conducted UAV opera-tions against Israel and in Syria. Hezbollah reportedly uses variants of the Iranian Ababil armed drone.
Houthis – The U.S. National Security Council openly accused the Ansarallah forces (var. Houthis) of attacking Saudi Arabia with Iranian-made drones.
The growing Iranian UCAV arsenal and the proliferation of Iranian armed drones and its variants to its allies and proxies threaten American interests in the Middle East, including U.S. allies and partners.
Iran’s fleet of UCAVs enhances Iran’s military might and geopolitical influence. In a period of rising tensions with Iran and the significant ongoing instability in the Middle East, these unmanned combat aerial systems pose a growing threat to U.S. interests in the region, especially deployed U.S. military forces.
Iran has significant strategic ambitions in the Middle East. Specifically, Iran is attempting to spread its political, religious, and military influence across the region from the Persian Gulf to the Mediterranean Sea.Iran’s push for regional hegemony in the Middle East also targets the United States as an outside power with significant national interests in the region and as the country with, perhaps, the greatest ability to significantly constrain Iran’s power and influence. American interests in the region include the security of its allies and partners, fighting terrorism, the free flow of energy, freedom of navigation, and preventing the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.
UAVs are an integral part of Iran’s efforts to expand its regional influence. The drone threat cannot be eliminated, but it can be contained by working collaboratively with allies to deter further attacks, develop counter-drone technologies, and keep a lid on Tehran’s ability to acquire increasingly lethal drones or provide them to its proxies.