Iran, Russia, Belarus and Armenia hold joint drone competition

The competition comes as the US warns that Russia is preparing to buy Iranian drones.

 Drone competition in Iran, August 2022 (photo credit: TASNIM NEWS AGENCY)
Drone competition in Iran, August 2022
(photo credit: TASNIM NEWS AGENCY)

Iran, Russia, Belarus and Armenia launched a military drone competition in Kashan in central Iran on Monday, just days after the US confirmed that Russian officials were being trained to use Iranian drones.

Over 70 soldiers from the four countries are participating in the tournament, which includes five stages of physical fitness and shooting and four drone divisions, including aerial reconnaissance for three days, air support and correction of artillery fire, reconnaissance at night and constant reconnaissance, Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) Brigadier General Ali Bilali told Iranian media.

The competition will close on September 6th. The competition was first held in 2015 by Russia and Kazakhstan and Iran has taken part in the past six competitions.

US warns Russia is training to use Iranian drones

In July, US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan told reporters that Iran is preparing to provide Russia with several hundred drones, including some that are capable of being armed with weapons.

Drone displayed in Army Day parade in Iran, April 18, 2021 (credit: SCREENSHOT/MEHR NEWS)Drone displayed in Army Day parade in Iran, April 18, 2021 (credit: SCREENSHOT/MEHR NEWS)

“The Iranian government is preparing to provide Russia with up to several hundred UAVs, including weapons-capable [ones], on an expedited timeline," Sullivan said. “Our information further indicates that Iran is preparing to train Russian forces to use these UAVs, with initial training sessions slated to begin as soon as early as July."

On Thursday, US State Department deputy spokesperson Vedant Patel told reporters that the US was able to confirm that Russian officials conducted training in Iran in recent weeks as part of the planned transfer of drones.

"We will vigorously enforce all US sanctions on both the Russian and Iranian arms trades. The kind of transactions you’re mentioning are potentially sanctionable under numerous authorities, including but not limited to Russia-specific authorities and our worldwide nonproliferation sanctions," said Patel.

"We remain incredibly concerned about Iran’s use and proliferation of UAVs. They have been used to attack US forces, our partners in the region, and international shipping entities. We will continue to use all available tools, including but not limited to sanctions, to prevent, deter, and dismantle the procurement network that supply UAV-related material and technology to Iran."