Ukraine Needs to be Vigilant, Russia Could Use Advanced Iranian Drones

Ukraine Needs to be Vigilant, Russia Could Use Advanced Iranian Drones
Presiden Rusia Vladimir Putin dan timpalannya dari Iran Ebrahim Raisi berjabat tanganpada awal pertemuan di Teheran, Iran, 19 Juli 2022

International Military - Nothing is certain in war. Something can change instantly, however war is closely related to interests. And it happened with a Middle Eastern country, Iran is rumored to be helping Russia with hundreds of stealth drones.

The state of Iran has come to the fore as a drone supplier in recent years. Leaders there freely send drones to broad groups, particularly those pro-Iran in Iraq, Syria and Yemen. Russia has been a major trading partner and an occasional military ally of Iran over the years.

The Guardian reports that Russia has received ammunition and military hardware sourced from Iran with the help of arms smuggling networks there. Tehran has firmly expressed its readiness to sign a long-term economic agreement with Moscow. Considering Russia is currently in the midst of unprecedented western sanctions, since its invasion of Ukraine began.

The Guardian also claims that Iranian exports to Russia have increased since the outbreak of the Ukraine conflict. Historically, Russia has fought alongside Iran in helping defend Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad. Even though Iran's defense sector is a far cry from Russia's power, drones remain a huge force for Tehran.

Iranian drones have been tested extensively in Syria and Iraq, flying thousands of missions mainly using the more conservative non-stealth designs such as the Shahed 129. Arguably, Russia's dependence on the fighter jet is very large and expensive, causing it to reduce the number of missions.

With that, Russia's access to much cheaper drones is getting bigger. With advanced capabilities, drones can serve as a force multiplier for Russian air strikes.

Quoted from Military Watch Magazine, Iran is one of the countries that has experience operating high-performance stealth drones. Because so far, only two countries, namely the United States and China, have a large drone power. If this drone ever reaches Russia, the outcome will be game-changing in its battle with Ukraine. Not to mention the complexity of the drone itself, it is possible that Iran will send its operator to Russia.

Military Watch Magazine describes a series of major advances for Iranian drone development beginning in the early 2010s. Recalling the successful Iranian electronic attack on the CIA-operated Lockheed Martin RQ-170 Sentinel stealth drone over its airspace in 2011. In the end, the drone was taken over by Iran and made their own version.

And keep in mind, the RQ-170 was probably the most stealth drone in the world at the time, even though Iran claimed their drone was better. Call it the Shahed 171, which is an Iranian drone that takes the design from the RQ-170.

The Shahed 171 was deployed in February 2018, where it proved capable of withstanding the most powerful air defenses on Israeli territory. The drone is said to have successfully evaded an attack by a US-made Patriot anti-aircraft missile. In the end Israel managed to neutralize the Shahed 171 with a melee attack, where its stealth capabilities provided no protection.

A former Israeli politician, Danny Yatom spoke about the incident. "It was a sophisticated operation, the Shahed 171 almost resembled a US drone. Even Israel itself could not identify it as an Iranian-made drone," he said.

Iran has freely and legally been able to export conventional weapons since the lifting of the UN arms embargo in October 2020. The possibility of transferring Iranian technology to support the development of Russian drones is very likely.

On the Russian side, they can provide other military assets to Iran. Considering that the Islamic state's military power has been obsolete for decades in various fields, from fighter jets to armored vehicles.

Defense systems such as the S-400 as well as Su-30 and Su-35 jets, and the Bastion coastal defense system are some of the assets Iran is reportedly interested in.

Iran's newest stealth drones, the Shahed 181 and Shahed 191 are options that Russia might choose. It said the drones could prove to be problematic for Ukraine's defence.

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