IRGC Unveils Light Explosive-stuffed Kamikaze Drone - Photo
Having spent years cut off from access to foreign arms, the Islamic Republic has worked to develop a broad array of unmanned aerial vehicles, ranging from small, slow-moving reconnaissance drones to multirole tactical and long-range jet-powered kamikaze systems.
Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps has unveiled a new kamikaze drone known as the Me'raj 504 (lit. 'Instrument of Ascension 504').
Tasnim has released a photo of the new UAV, which was displayed at a defence exhibition in Tehran on Sunday. The drone is said to be capable of carrying up to 2.5 kg of explosives, and to have a 100 km+ range.
The small, low-cost UAV is propelled by a piston engine, and designed to take out enemy air defenses.
The Me'raj 504 is said to be an upgrade of the Me'raj 214, another drone fielded by the IRGC.
Iran's drone engineers are no strangers to the use of small, simple delta wing designs, with the armed forces using the Hazem long-range reconnaissance and strike drone since at least 2019.
Late last year, Iran also showed off rocket-powered Shahed 136 drone attacking a mock-up of a facility designed to look like the Shimon Peres Negev Nuclear Research Center, the suspected birthplace of the Israeli nuclear bomb.
Iran has one of the broadest and most advanced drone warfare programmes in the world, seeing these systems and its ballistic and cruise missile arsenal as its main deterrents against foreign aggression. Tehran's UAVs include systems like the Kaman-22 long-range strike drone, the Fotros multipurpose UAV, tactical combat quadcopters and vertical take-off-and-landing drones for use by the navy.
Some of the drone nation's designs are developments of reverse-engineered US and Israeli systems. Iran has managed to hijack, hack into, or shoot down an assortment of drones flying into the country's airspace over the past two decades, including a US Scan Eagle, an RQ-170 Sentinel flying wing, and, in the summer of 2019, a $220 million RQ-4 Global Hawk, whose remnants are now on display at Tehran's National Aerospace Park.
Last year, Air Defence Force commander Brig. Gen. Alireza Sabahifard boasted that the Islamic Republic had achieved the capability to carry out "every type" of aerial operation involving its UAV designs.
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