Iranian military drones. Illustrative photo.
Tehran/Moscow – Iran has smuggled new, technologically advanced, long-range armed drones into Russia with the help of ships and the state-owned airline. The Russian army uses these drones in the war in Ukraine. With the help of sources in this Middle Eastern country familiar with the production and sale of drones, the British newspaper The Guardian found out.
At least 18 drones were delivered to the Russian Navy after Russian officers and technicians visited Tehran in November last year, where they were shown a range of Iranian technology.
On that occasion, the ten-member Russian delegation selected six Mohajir-6 drones, which have a range of around 200 kilometers and carry two missiles under each wing, along with 12 Shahed-191 and Shahed-129 drones, which are also capable of air-to-air strikes. country.
Unlike the better-known Shahed-131 and Shahed-136 drones, which are widely used by the Russian military for kamikaze-style attacks against Ukrainian targets, these drones fly at higher altitudes. Their mission is to drop the bombs and return to the base intact.
This revelation shows how relations between Iran and Russia, which share hostile attitudes towards the United States, have further strengthened since the beginning of the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
Last August, US officials said Iran began demonstrating the Shahed-191 and Shahed-129 drones to Russia in June, adding that they expected Tehran to sell them to Moscow. Since September, Mohajir-6 drones have been shot down in Ukraine; one of which was shown to The Guardian by Ukrainian officials in Kiev in November.
Russia, increasingly short of missiles to sustain a brutal bombing campaign against Ukrainian cities, has turned to Iran as well as North Korea to replenished its stock. Many in Ukraine fear that Russia plans to launch a major attack around the time of the war's one-year anniversary on February 24.
Russia is apparently looking to acquire more advanced drones more comparable to Turkey's TB2 Bayraktars, as Ukraine has become increasingly effective at stopping smaller suicide drones that must fly low before attacking.
Most of the drones sent to Russia secretly picked up by an Iranian vessel at a base on the coast of the Caspian Sea, and then handed over at sea to a Russian navy ship, sources cited by The Guardian say. Others were then sent aboard planes of Iran's state airlines. Iran also sent technicians to Moscow to help get the drones up and running.
The drones were manufactured by the same factory in the city of Isfahan that was targeted by an apparently Israeli drone on January 28. US officials have indicated that they believe Israel was motivated by concerns for its own security and was not seeking to intervene in the war in Ukraine.
The last delivered drones were reportedly involved in fighting in Ukraine on November 20 last year. . More deliveries were expected before the aforementioned January attack, apparently by an Israeli drone. But the attack apparently caused significant damage to the production of Iran's most advanced weapons systems, including guided missiles and drones.
The Mohajir-6 drones, which Russia received in November, can stay in the air for up to six hours and operate on electricity. They can carry 40-kilogram bombs and contain high-precision imaging and guidance systems.
The Shahed-129 carries a heavier, 60-kilogram payload, but can only stay in the air for four hours. The Shahed-191 can fly for five hours with a 70-kilogram load. Both are said to use a modified engine originally made in Germany, The Guardian added.