Iran Unveils New Drone, Another Becomes Operational
Iran's Revolutionary Guard has unveiled a new advanced reconnaissance drone and said another attack drone unveiled last year has now become fully operational.
AFP quoted local reports saying the highly mobile propellant-powered reconnaissance drone, unveiled this weekend, and named "Yasseer," can fly for eight hours with a range of 200 kilometers (124 miles) and reach an altitude of 4,500 meters (15,000 feet).
The report also said images of the drone resemble the American ScanEagle, an unmanned short-range aerial surveillance vehicle that Iran claimed to have captured in late 2012.
“Yasseer is capable of identifying targets… with its very powerful camera, and reporting them back to the base,” the chief of army ground forces General Ahmad Reza Pourdastan was quoted as saying at the unveiling ceremony.
According to photos provided to Iranian media, the drone is launched from a wedge catapult, enhancing its mobility. The reports did not provide further details.
This weekend also saw another new attack drone which was unveiled last September become fully operational.
The UK's Guardian newspaper said the drone named Shahed-129, or Witness-129, is able to fly distances of up to 1,700km (1,000 miles). Israel is some 1200 kilometers from Iran. The newspaper, quoting an Iranian news agency, said the drone had a 24-hour non-stop flight capability, could carry eight bombs or missiles, and could hit both fixed and moving targets.
Iran in recent years has boasted of capturing US drones it says have penetrated its airspace, vowing to reverse engineer them to make its own.
In December 2011 Iran claimed to have captured a large and sophisticated CIA stealth drone, a bat-winged RQ-170 Sentinel. Tehran rejected a US request for its return.
Earlier Monday, Israel's Maariv newspaper said that Israel had decided to slash spending on its Arrow 3 missile defense system following a US decision to cut $55 million from the joint program. The Arrow 3, otherwise known as David's Sling, was designed to counter long range missiles from Iran.
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu will meet with Barack Obama in Washington later Monday, where he is expected to urge the US President to continue to press Iran to cease its program to develop nuclear weapons.