Iran claims it is equipping aerial drones with missile capabilities
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Iran claims it is equipping aerial drones with missile capabilities

Move follows successful tests of warheads in summer military exercise

Members of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corp celebrate after a missile launch in July 2012 (AP/IRNA, Mostafa Qotbi)
Members of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corp celebrate after a missile launch in July 2012 (AP/IRNA, Mostafa Qotbi)

After unveiling new unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) in March, and testing a new missile system in July, Iran announced Sunday that it will combine the two, and equip the drones with missile capabilities, the semi-official Fars News Agency reported.

According to Deputy Defense Minister for Industry and Research Mohammad Eslami, the Sharapak (butterfly) aircraft drone has a  range of 50 kilometers (31 miles), and can reach an altitude of 4,572 meters (5,000 feet).

In July, Fars reported that the Iranian military successfully fired several of its new Khalij-e Fars (Persian Gulf) missiles at naval targets.

The missiles were fired on the final day of a three-day military exercise titled “The Great Prophet 7,” during which the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) tested dozens of short-, medium- and long-range rockets as part of a major drill aimed at simulating attacks on foreign targets, Iran’s IRNA news agency said.

In August 2010, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad introduced Iran’s first UAV combat drone, named Karrar, reportedly capable of flying long distances at a high-speed, and carrying payload for bombing missions against ground targets.

In February 2011, Iran launched production of two hi-tech drones named ‘Ra’d’ (Thunder) and ‘Nazir’ (Harbinger), reportedly capable of conducting long-range reconnaissance, patrolling, assault and bombing missions with high precision.

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