Iran reveals how drones became a pillar of its war doctrine -analysis

In recent months Iran has sent drones to Russia and Moscow is using the Iranian Shahed 136 against targets in Ukraine.

A drone is launched during a military exercise in an undisclosed location in Iran, in this handout image obtained on August 25, 2022. (photo credit: IRANIAN ARMY/WANA (WEST ASIA NEWS AGENCY)/HANDOUT VIA REUTERS)
A drone is launched during a military exercise in an undisclosed location in Iran, in this handout image obtained on August 25, 2022.
(photo credit: IRANIAN ARMY/WANA (WEST ASIA NEWS AGENCY)/HANDOUT VIA REUTERS)

Unmanned aerial vehicles are a pillar of the “wars of the future,” Iran’s Fars News Agency reported Monday.

This is interesting because Iran is currently exporting drones to Russia and sending members of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps to help Russia use the drones, according to recent reports.

Over the past few months, Iran has sent drones to Russia, and Moscow is using the Iranian Shahed 136 against Ukraine.

It is not clear if all the drones are exported from Iran or if Russia has shifted to locally producing Iranian-style drones. However, it is clear that Iranian drones are transforming the Russian war effort and enabling Russia to have a cheap, expendable system that it can use to terrorize Ukrainians.  

[UAVs] “will be one of the main pillars of wars in the future.”

Fars News

Iran: Global drone power

In Fars News's Monday article on Iran’s drones, the pro-regime outlet discussed how Iran became a global drone power.

 Shahed 171 Simorgh flying wing UAV (credit: M. Sadegh Nikgostar/Fars News Agency) Shahed 171 Simorgh flying wing UAV (credit: M. Sadegh Nikgostar/Fars News Agency)

Iran is one of several countries that makes armed military drones, along with the US, China, Israel and Turkey.

Iran concentrated on drones after the 1979 overthrow of the Shah. The new Islamic regime focused on drones and missiles because Iran couldn’t import new warplanes from the West.

Iran has been using drones to attack Saudi Arabia and to target Israel and US forces in Iraq and Syria in recent years. Iran also watched closely the recent war between Azerbaijan and Armenia and how Baku used drones successfully.

“Iran is also among the top five to six countries in the world in the field of drones, as Russia, which is a superpower in the military field, requested Iran’s cooperation in the field of unmanned aircraft construction years ago,” the Fars report said.

The report hinted at deeper cooperation on drones going back years.

“Iran’s anti-armor weapons are one of the best examples that are now part of Iran’s export basket and are among the best products that other countries can buy from Iran,” the report said. “These weapons have two features: Firstly, they are cheaper; and secondly, they have very high accuracy.”

“Iran's anti-armor weapons are one of the best examples that are now part of Iran's export basket and are among the best products that other countries can buy from Iran."

Fars News

This conflicts with the regime’s statements that claim it isn’t selling drones to Russia.

Source of Iran's drone success

Iran links its success with drones to its success with missiles and space technology.

“Of course, we may not be at the level of great powers, but we are a country that has this ability, and now we need to focus more and improve it,” the report said.

When Iran had to wait for Russia to provide it with the S-300 system, Tehran turned to local defense-industry experts to build what it calls the Bavar 373, its own air-defense system, the report said. The Iranian system has a range of some 300 km., Tehran claims.

Tehran admits it has harassed US Central Command, challenged the US in the air-superiority arena using its drones and has targeted Israel by supporting Hezbollah with drone abilities.

Thirty-nine years ago, the US tried to put in place sanctions that would have deprived Iran of military hardware, but Iranian drones now are being exported abroad, the report said.