Iran unveils new drone it claims can 'reach Israel'

Israeli arms expert says air defenses can deal with drone; states "Iranians tend to greatly exaggerate their abilities".

November 18, 2013 21:24
2 minute read.
Iranian Fotros drone.

Iranian Fotros drone 370. (photo credit: YouTube Screenshot)


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Iran unveiled a new drone on Monday, saying the domestically built machine, named “Fotros,” was the largest ever produced and had a range of more than 2,000 km, enough to reach Israel and most of the Middle East.

The drone was put on display at the headquarters of the Iranian Armed Forces Aviation Industries Organization in Tehran for a ceremony attended by the country’s defense minister, Brig.-Gen. Hossein Dehqan, according to Iran’s Press TV.

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The drone can stay in the air for 30 hours and has attack and surveillance capabilities, Dehqan announced, according to the Fars News Agency.

“This strategic drone has an operational range of 2,000 kilometers, and can fly to a ceiling of 25,000 feet in altitude for 16 to 30 hours,” said Dehqan, adding that its test results had been better than expected.

The distance between Iran and Israel is a bit less than 1,800 km.

Yiftah Shapir, director of the Military Balance Project at the Tel Aviv-based Institute for National Security Studies, told The Jerusalem Post that the drone appeared similar to the Israeli-made Heron although it was difficult to know what level of hardware and software the Iranians had placed inside.

“It seems to be the same size as the Shuval [Heron], maybe a bit smaller,” Shapir said. “It definitely doesn’t seem to be same size as [the Israel Aerospace Industriesproduced] Eitan drone, which is double the size of the Shuval and weighs four times as much.”

He said the Heron, also produced by IAI, was known throughout the world, meaning its exterior would be easy to copy.

“It’s much harder to know what is inside,” he added.

The Iranian drone’s mission computer is unknown, Shapir said, although it is doubtful it’s in the same league as that used by Israel.

“On the one hand, the Iranians tend to greatly exaggerate their abilities,” he told the Post. “On the other, they must not be underestimated. Iran has a large military industry and high quality personnel. I have no doubt they can construct a drone that takes off, flies far distances, and maybe even comes home.”

He added that other Iranian drones had already reached Israeli skies, albeit one-way, managing to get “fairly deep into the country.”

“This type of drone is big enough for Israeli air defenses to deal with before it enters Israeli airspace, whether it carries surveillance equipment or weapons,” he said.

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