Iran’s Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) Commander Major General Hossein Salaami on Sunday announced that the country had drones with a range of 7,000 km. “They can fly, return home, and make landing wherever they are planned to,” General Salami said at the Baqiyatallah University of Medical Sciences in Tehran.
Here's video of IRGC's Commander-in-Chief claiming #Iran has drones with a range of 7,000 km. I've never heard officials brag about this particular range. In the past it's been ~3,000 km+. In January, the Army announced a new generation of suicide drones with a 4,000 km range. pic.twitter.com/cHKl7oS1vi— Jason Brodsky (@JasonMBrodsky) June 27, 2021
Iran has had experience using drones since the war with Iraq in the 1980s. However, in recent times, Iranian-made drones have been used by Iranian proxies across the middle east. The 2019 Abqaiq-Khurais attack on Saudi Aramco facilities that crippled the country’s oil production abilities for days—purportedly carried out by the Houthis that the kingdom was at war against in Yemen—reportedly featured Iran-made missiles and drones, Saudi Arabia claimed afterwards.
While Iranian drones like the Shahed 129 are known to have a ferry range of under 2,000km with an endurance of 24, the existence of a 7,000km-range drone has not yet been confirmed by Iran. In May, the IRGC unveiled its Ghazzeh armed drone, touting a flight time of 2,000km with the ability to carry 13 bombs. However, in 2011, a US-made RQ-170 Sentinel was captured by Iranian forces, granting Iran access to sophisticated UAV technology. Iran later displayed seemingly reverse engineering copies with its Shahed 171 Simorgh and Saegheh UAVS.
Iran is known to have supplied drones to allied militias like Hezbollah in Lebanon and the Houthis in Yemen, including “kamikaze UAVs” designed to crash into their targets. According to a Reuters report, Iranian proxies like the Houthies manufacture their weapons locally using foreign expertise and parts smuggled in from Iran. Drone attacks by Iran-backed militias in Iraq have also increased, prompting concern from US military officials. These fixed wing drones fly low so as not to be picked up by defensive systems. Such drone strikes have targeted US facilities in recent times.
The use of armed drones by proxies has increasingly spread around conflict zones in the world. India on Sunday witnessed its first instance of an IED-laden blown striking a military airport in Jammu and Kashmir.
In January, Iran had unveiled a range of suicide drones it claimed could hit targets 4,000km away. Last year, the IRGC unveiled fast-attack boats that were equipped with Ababil-2 suicide drones that it deployed to the Sea of Oman and Persian Gulf.
Iran’s long-time enemy in the Middle East, Israel, is the largest exporter of drones in the world.