Risk of Drone Wars Intensifies in Middle East

July 18th, 2010 - by admin

Press TV & Agence France-Presse & New York Times & Wired – 2010-07-18 19:20:29


Iran Drones to Safeguard Border bases

TEHRAN (July 4, 2010) — A top Iranian Air Force commander says the Army plans to equip all border bases with domestic unmanned areal vehicles (UAVs) within the next few months.

“These drones are to carry only reconnaissance missions for the time being,” Deputy Operations Commander Majid Pirhadi told Fars News Agency on Sunday.

He said that the Army would prioritize deployment to bases on its southern and western borders.

Pirhadi went on to add that the Air Force was also set to procure target and decoy, combat, and research and development drones in the near future.

Noting that the Iranian armed forces have stepped up efforts to enhance the design and manufacturing of homemade drones, Pirhadi said the army was in the last stages of developing long-range drones.

The drones will help bolster the army’s offensive and defensive capabilities, the commander stressed.

In April, the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) announced that Iran’s ‘stealth’ drone, Pehpad, was scheduled to become operational in the second half of the current year.

Pehpad is a radar-evading unmanned aerial vehicle capable of bombing and conducting reconnaissance missions.

Iran Claims New Stealth Drone That Can Attack US Gulf Fleet
Agence France-Presse

TEHRAN (February 10, 2007) — Iran said on Saturday it has started mass producing and using a stealth drone with a range of 700 kilometres (420 miles) that it claims is undetectable to radars. “We have built a drone with a more than 700-kilometre range which can collect information and shoot films,” the head of the elite Revolutionary Guards, General Yahya Rahim Safavi, told Iran’s Arabic-language satellite news channel Al-Alam.

“The material and the shape of this drone make it undetectable for radars, so it can not be targeted,” he added.

“The drone has passed its experimental phase and it is being mass produced, and we are currently using it in our operations,” Rahim Safavi, said without giving more details.

His announcement comes a few days after troops under his command successfully tested a land-to-sea missile with a range of about 350 kilometres (210 miles) and a new Russian-made air defence missile system.

Iranian leaders have repeatedly said the Islamic republic’s armed forces are ready for any eventuality in the current standoff with the West over its nuclear programme.

Although the United States has said it wants the standoff resolved through diplomacy, Washington has never ruled out military action to thwart Iran’s atomic drive.

The United States accuses Iran of seeking a nuclear weapon. Tehran vehemently denies the charges, insisting its atomic programme is peaceful in nature.

Earlier Related Report
Iran Warns ‘Suicide Drones’ Can Hit US Navy

Agence France-Presse

TEHRAN (February 11 ) — Iran has built “suicide” drones capable of attacking US naval ships and forcing them to leave Gulf waters, the semi-official news agency Mehr quoted a Revolutionary Guards commander as saying Sunday.

“We have built birds without passengers (drones) that can carry out suicide operations on the US Navy, at any depth if necessary, to make them leave the region in disgrace,” said Ali Shoushtari, deputy commander of the Guards’ land forces.

Warning about a “defeat for the enemy”, Shoushtari said: “Americans know that if they confront the Islamic system, they wil not be secure in the region or at home.”

Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei on Thursday vowed to hit back at US interests worldwide if it attacked the Islamic republic to thwart its nuclear programme.

In response, the White House said it has no plans to invade Iran, and downplayed the significance of reinforcing the US military presence in the Gulf region.

Iranian leaders have repeatedly said the country’s armed forces are ready for any eventuality in the current standoff with the West over its nuclear activities.

The United States accuses Iran of seeking a nuclear weapon. Tehran vehemently denies the charges, insisting its atomic programme is peaceful in nature.

Israel Unveils Drones Able to Hit Iran>/big>
Associated Press

TEL NOF AIR FORCE BASE, Israel (February 22, 2010) — Israel’s Air Force on Sunday introduced a fleet of huge pilotless planes that can remain in the air for a full day and fly as far as the Persian Gulf, putting Iran within their range.

The new aircraft, called the Heron TP, has a wingspan of 86 feet, making it the size of a Boeing 737 jetliner and the largest unmanned aircraft in Israel’s military.

The commander of Israel’s Air Force, Maj. Gen. Ido Nehushtan, said the aircraft “has the potential to be able to conduct new missions down the line as they become relevant.”

Israel’s military refused to disclose the size of the new fleet or whether it was designed for use against Iran.

Israel considers Iran an enemy because of its nuclear program, missiles and repeated threats.

Israel has hinted at the possibility of a military strike against Iran if world pressure does not halt the Iranian nuclear program, despite Iranian assertions that the program is for peaceful ends.

US Jet Shoots Down Iranian Drone Over Iraq
Noah Shachtman / Wired

March 12, 2009) — An American fighter jet shot down an Iranian drone as it was flying over Iraq, US military sources in Baghdad tell Danger Room.

Details of the previously-unreported shoot-down, which occurred last month, are still sketchy. But we do know that American commanders have long accused Tehran of supplying weapons and training to all sorts of Iraqi militant groups. Shi’ite militias fired Iranian rockets at U.S. troops in Iraq, according to the American military; Sunni militias allegedly used Iranian armor-piercing bombs to reduce U.S. vehicles to ribbons.

In early 2008, however, the torrent of Iranian weapons into Iraq slowed to a trickle, the US said. And now, the new Obama administration is looking for ways to reach out to the Tehran regime — dangling invitations to international conferences, and offering promises of renewed relations.

Which means the drone incident comes at a particularly sensitive time.

Iran has built an array of unmanned aerial vehicles, or UAVs. The pneumatically launched Ababil (“Swallow”) has a wingspan of more than 10 feet, and cruises at 160 knots, according to Globalsecurity.org. The Mohajer or Misrad (“Migrant”) drone is a bit smaller, and slower-flying.

Iran has supplied Hezbollah, the Lebanese terror group, with both models. Misrad drones flew reconnaissance missions in both November 2004 and April 2005. Then, in 2006, during Hezbollah’s war with Israel, the group operated both Misrads and Ababils over Israel’s skies. At least one was shot down by Israeli fighter jets.

Since then, Tehran claims to have radically upgraded its unmanned fleet. In 2007, Iran said it built a drone with a range of 420 miles. In February, Iran’s deputy defense minister claimed its latest UAV could now fly as far as 600 miles — a huge improvement over crude drones like the Misrad, if true. Iran often exaggerates what its weapons can do. But, if this drone really can stay in the air for that long, the Washington Times notes, “it could soar over every US military installation, diplomatic mission or country of interest in the Middle East.” Including those in Iraq.

UPDATE: So I finally got a hold of a spokesman for Multi-National Corps – Iraq. His response: “I believe MNF-I [Multi-National Forces — Iraq — Corps’ bosses, basically] is taking the lead on this incident.” So then I reached out to MNF-I. A spokesman there wouldn’t confirm the shoot-down. Nor would he deny it. “We’ve got nothing for you, Noah,” the spokesman said.

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