Washington has imposed sanctions against Iranian private companies that are allegedly associated with the production of strike and reconnaissance unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs). Why Americans are afraid of Iranian d-rones, how drones appea-red in Tehran and why they look like American prototypes – in the material of Gazeta.Ru.
The Treasury Departm-ent and the US Department of State have announced the imposition of restrictions against Iran’s drone p-rogram. “Iran and its puppet militants have used dro-nes to attack US troops, our partners and naval vessels,” US Undersecretary of the Treasury Wally Adeyemo said in a statement.
Two companies, the Kimia Part Sivan Company (KIPAS) and the Oje Pa-rvaz Mado Nafar Company (Mado Company), were sanctioned for alleged links with the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) of Iran. According to the US authorities, under the guise of private research, they were developing an army drone program for the IRGC and carried out international deals in the interests of the Iranian government. And Tehran, Washington is sure, has already provided dron-es to its allies – including organizations that the US considers terrorist.
“The falling of such weapons into the hands of non-state actors is becoming a big threat, since these organizations are not bound by any international obligations,” Isa Javadov, an orientalist historian from the Center for Islamic World Studies, told Gazeta.Ru. – The use of attack drones by pro-Iranian proxies has already been repeatedly recorded during attacks on the oil and transport infrastructure of Saudi Arabia and the UAE by the Yemeni Houthis, as well as against Israel by the Lebanese Hezbollah.” The expert also notes that the US Treasury Department points to the supply of Iranian drones to Ethiopia to “fuel the conflict” in Tigray as a justification for the imposition of sanctions, but the US ally UAE, as well as Turkey and China, are involved in similar supplies – this did not cause sanctions.
“Kamikaze drones, they are also loitering ammunition, are actually a cruise missile for the poor. This was shown by the operations of the Houthis against Saudi Arabia. Iranian ears stick out there, too, when it comes to some of the technologies that the rebels have at their disposal, ” – said Dmitry Stefanovich, a researcher at the Center for International Security of the IMEMO RAS
Iran itself, the expert believes, uses the mechanisms of “gray deliveries” to obtain these technologies and actively cooperates with the DPRK.
“The main difference between the Iranian program and similar programs of competitors is that it is quite difficult for Iran to extract components on inte-rnational markets. Turkey and Israel are embedded in international technological chains, although Ankara has recently started having problems in this area. But, nevertheless, there are no international umbrella restrictions on military-technical cooperation with the Turkish side. In the case of Tehran, the topic remains quite toxic, no one is in a hurry to cooperate with the Iranians, ”Stefanovich said.
Javadov, in turn, adds that Tehran can pass off other people’s technologies as its own. “Iran has long been engaged in the production of drones and has extensive experience in illegal trade operations in the military-industrial complex,” he said. It is characteristic that the real origin of components, especially engines, of most Iranian UAVs is hidden. However, some of them are based on American drones. For example, Qods Yasir was created on the basis of the American Boeing Insitu ScanEagle, intercepted by the Iranian army in 2012. Shahed 171 Simorgh and Saegheh-2 based on the American RQ-170 Sentinel that violated Iranian airspace in 2011.
Of particular interest are the Shahed 129 strike UAVs that look very similar to the American MQ-1 Predator. Since 2014, these drones have been taking an active part in the Syrian civil war. According to some reports, the modification is equipped with the popular Austrian Rotax-914 engine. Accordingly, new US sanctions may affect the supply channels for these engines.
“The introduction of sanctions against Iranian UAV manufacturers shows that the United States is not yet ready to normalize relations. Given the ongoing confrontation, Tehran’s huge drone fleet could become a major advantage in a potential conflict with Saudi Arabia or the UAE,” – Javadov is convinced.
Iranian drones are valuable for Tehran not only as carriers of strike weapons or for strategic reconnaissance, but also as a means of targeting and adjusting fire for Iranian ballistic missiles. The Iranians are not doing very well with satellites, and drones can solve this problem, Stefanovich said.
At the same time, according to the expert, the big question is how effective the use of UAVs during a large-scale conflict will be for Iran – drones are not the most “survivable weap-on” when meeting with the means of a well-organized air defense.