Iran’s Defense Minister Ahmad Vahidi on Sunday boasted of his country’s
“capabilities” and claimed Hezbollah had a “natural right” to fly drones over
Israel – following the flight of a hostile unmanned aircraft into Israeli
airspace earlier this month.
“The Islamic Republic’s capabilities are
very high, and are in support of the Islamic ummah [collective nation],” Vahidi,
a former commander of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps, said at a ceremony
to inaugurate new military production units, alluding to Iran’s continued
backing of Hezbollah.
His comments were relayed by Fars News, which is
linked to the Revolutionary Guards.
Hezbollah’s activities had “shown the
weakness of the Zionist Regime’s Iron Dome,” Vahidi added.
Regime cannot be immune to the wrath of the Islamic ummah,” he
Vahidi added that the October 6 Hezbollah drone flight was a
response to Israel’s “repeated violations” of Lebanese airspace.
Sunday, the commander of Iran’s Khatam-ol- Anbiya Air Defense Base announced the
development of a new domestically built unmanned aerial vehicle with bombing
According to Fars News, Brig.-Gen. Farzad Esmaeili said the
Hazem UAV would have three models, shortrange, medium-range and long-range. The
main purpose of the Hazem was reconnaissance missions but it could also carry a
payload, the report said.
Tehran frequently publicizes its military
achievements, and in recent months has increased its focus on promoting claims
of advances in its domestically designed and produced weaponry, including
However, according to analysts including the United States
Institute of Peace, Iran often exaggerates about its weapons
Vahidi also used his speech to reinforce the message, repeated
frequently in past months by regime officials, that Iran had concentrated
resources on becoming selfsufficient in military production.
currency and economic woes continue, its state and pro-government media have
devoted considerable space to discussing the Hezbollah drone, a trend that
continued on Sunday.
Mashregh News, which is linked to the Revolutionary
Guards and is known for promoting government ideology, speculated in detail
about which Iranian-made UAV Hezbollah could have used.
quick to note that the Iranian regime had not officially stated that it provided
Hezbollah with a specific drone.
However, the report suggested that while
Hezbollah could have used Iranianmade UAVs Ababil (“Swallow”) and Mohajer-4
(“Migrant”) for reconnaissance and surveillance flights over Israel, Iran may
also have equipped its Lebanese proxy with newer and more powerful
Hezbollah has used both Ababil and Mohajer-4 UAVs in the past to
violate Israeli airspace. Iran first gave the Lebanese terrorist group Ababil
drones in 2002. The Ababil, which was developed by Iran’s HESA aircraft
manufacturing company, can be used as an aerial weapons platform delivering a
payload of 40 kg. of explosives, or to conduct surveillance missions.
Mohajer, first tested in 2002, can also be used to carry a payload or as a
reconnaissance craft. In November 2004, Hezbollah managed to violate Israeli
airspace with a Mohajer UAV, which reached Nahariya on the northern
Mashregh suggested that Iran could now have supplied Hezbollah
with the newer Ra’d, Karrar or Shahed- 129 UAVs, which also have both
operational and combat capabilities. Ra’d (“Thunder”) can carry a 10- kg.
warhead over 100 km., Mashregh claimed, and could be used to fly longer
distances to carry out lethal attacks against Israel.
Iran’s state media
first reported the existence of the Ra’d UAV in early 2010, claiming that it is
optimized for low altitude flights and can deliver high-precision short-range
According to reports in the Iranian media, the Karrar
(“Striker”) is a bomber drone, first unveiled in 2010, although a scale model
was displayed in 2004. Iran’s state television reported that the drone had a
range of up to 1,000 km. and was built to deliver various configurations of
bombs or to carry out reconnaissance missions, transmitting images back to
ground control as it flies.
Announced in September, the Shahed-129
(“Witness”) is Iran’s latest combat and surveillance UAV, which Tehran claims
has an endurance of 24 hours and which was developed by various Revolutionary
Earlier, the UK’s Sunday Times newspaper claimed in
a report that the Hezbollah drone on October 6 flew in Israeli air space for
three hours, and managed to broadcast video of Israeli preparations for a joint
missile defense exercise with the US, before being shot down.
said the drone sent back images of classified ballistic missile sites, airfields
and possibly the nuclear reactor in Dimona.
The US and Israel are due to
hold the largest air defense drill of its kind later this
Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah took credit on Thursday for
sending the drone aircraft into Israel, saying in a televised speech on the
Al-Manar station that it was Iranian-made and that it was shot down near the
Jerusalem Post staff contributed to this report.