White House: Iran is planning to supply Russia with hundreds of drones
This statement comes as US President Joe Biden will be visiting "Israel" on Wednesday of this week.
White House national security adviser, Jake Sullivan, said that information sourced from a US top official suggests that Iran is planning to supply Russia with hundreds of combat drones for use in the war with Ukraine.
Sullivan told reporters that "the Iranian government is preparing to provide Russia with up to several hundred UAVs (unmanned aerial vehicles), including weapons-capable UAVs, on an expedited timeline," adding that this provision will be done on an ‘expedited timeline’ due to alleged "significant losses in Ukraine".
Sullivan said it was unclear whether Iran had already expedited any of the weapons to Russia, but the US has “information” that indicates Iran is preparing to initiate training for Russian forces to use the combat drones as early as this month.
This statement comes as US President Joe Biden will be visiting "Israel" on Wednesday of this week, before heading to Saudi Arabia on Friday "to strengthen a strategic partnership going forward that’s based on mutual interests and responsibilities, while also holding true to fundamental American values," Biden said in an op-ed published in NYT.
Iran's advances in the production of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV)
Iran produces different kinds of UAVs, and in recent years, the Iranian armed forces, especially the air force of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards, have made considerable investments in the production of drones, making major improvements in this field.
Last May, the Chief of Staff of the Iranian Armed Forces, Major General Mohammad Bagheri, visited one of the Iranian army's hidden bases for drone production. Following his visit, Bagheri was briefed on "the latest Iranian achievements in the field of manufacturing types of long-range attack military drones for the Iranian army."
Bagheri said that the base of the military parades is but a small glimpse of Iran's true military capabilities, adding that drones have become the most important indicator of a unit's combat effectiveness in new wars and that Iran will continue its work in advancing in its industry respectively to needs.
The most notable Iranian drones located at this base are the “Ababeel 5” equipped with “Qaem 9” missiles which are similar to American-made “Hellfire” drones, and the “Kaman 22” aircraft of Iran's Air Force which is capable of flying for a distance of 2,000 km and carries cruise missiles known as "Haidar" with a range of 200 km, and the "Futros" drone capable of carrying "Cruise" missiles and vertical bombs.
Iran is also in possession of the Shahid 149 aircraft, one of the most potent long-range drones that can take off and land, unlike other Iranian UAVs that have been programmed to fly and hit a specific target - such as the "Cruise" missile.
It is also in possession of the "Arch" suicide drone, which has a length of 4 and a half meters, which is an upgraded model of the "Kian 2" and is used for both defense and combat purposes.
The Wall Street Journal published a report on Iran's development and use of drones, describing this capability as rapidly increasing and causing a change in the balance of power in the Middle East, rivaling the US and its allies in the region.
The report quoted US, European and Israeli defense officials saying that the growing capabilities of Iran are changing the security equation in a region on the verge of war.
According to the newspaper, "The Iran threat is more complex, consisting of larger drones. Iran has been building them for years, going back to the 1980s when it first developed its Ababil and Mohajer programs. The Islamic Republic also has advanced drones dubbed part of its Shahid line, including the Shahid 171, which is a copy of America’s secretive RQ-170, and the Shahid 129, which is a copy of the Predator."
Why is Russia requesting UAVs from Iran?
US newspaper The Washington Post reported yesterday that Russia requested the purchase of UAVs from Iran in order to compensate for losses in Ukraine.
While Russia has a vast arsenal of drones, the purchase of Iranian UAVs could benefit Moscow by replenishing its most vital weapons system which suffered heavy losses during the conflict.
It pointed out that drones play an important role in targeting enemy forces with artillery, as armed drones can fly over the battlefield for hours, and launch missiles that can destroy tanks and other armored vehicles.