Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) commander Major General Hossein Salaami announced on Sunday that the country had drones with a range of 7,000 km. “They can fly, go home and land where they are intended,” General Salami said at the Baqiyatallah University of Medical Sciences in Tehran.
Iran has been used to using drones since the war with Iraq in the 1980s. However, in recent times Iranian-made drones have been used by Iranian proxies across the Middle East. Abqaiq-Khurais’ 2019 attack on Saudi Aramco facilities that crippled the country’s oil production capabilities for days – allegedly carried out by the Houthis the kingdom was at war with in Yemen – reportedly featured missiles and Iranian-made drones, Saudi Arabia later claimed.
While Iranian drones like the Shahed 129 are known to have a ferry range of less than 2,000 km with endurance of 24, the existence of a drone with a range of 7,000 km has yet to be known. confirmed by Iran. In May, the IRGC unveiled its armed drone Ghazzeh, touting a flight time of 2,000 km with the capacity to carry 13 bombs. However, in 2011, an American-made RQ-170 Sentinel was captured by Iranian forces, giving Iran access to sophisticated drone technology. Iran then displayed apparently reverse copies with its Shahed 171 Simorgh and Saegheh UAVS.
Iran is known to have supplied drones to allied militias like Hezbollah in Lebanon and the Houthis in Yemen, including “kamikaze drones” designed to crash into their targets. According to a Reuters report, Iranian proxies like the Houthies manufacture their weapons locally using foreign expertise and parts smuggled from Iran. Drone attacks by Iranian-backed militias in Iraq have also increased, raising concern among US military officials. These fixed-wing drones fly low so as not to be picked up by defensive systems. These drone strikes recently targeted American installations.
The use of armed drones by proxies has grown increasingly in conflict zones around the world. India witnessed its first case on Sunday of an IED explosion that hit a military airport in Jammu and Kashmir.
In January, Iran unveiled a range of suicide drones that it said could hit targets up to 4,000 km away. Last year, the IRGC unveiled rapid attack boats equipped with Ababil-2 suicide drones that it has deployed in the Arabian Sea and the Persian Gulf.
Iran’s longtime enemy in the Middle East, Israel, is the world’s largest exporter of drones.