Iran said Tuesday it inaugurated a production line for manufacturing a new military drone in Tajikistan, a first for both nations.
A report by the official IRNA news agency said the ceremony took place during a visit to the Central Asian nation by Gen. Mohammad Hossein Bagheri, chief of staff of Iran’s armed forces.
The move is seen as an effort by Iran to address the balance of power in the region: Afghanistan under its Sunni Muslim Taliban rulers poses a threat to its two neighbors, predominantly Shiite Iran and secular Tajikistan.
The report said the drone is dubbed the Ababil-2 after a bird in the Quran. It is capable of carrying out attacks as well as surveillance missions from a range of 200 kilometers (124 miles), the report said.
It did not reveal other details such as the capacity of the production line.
The announcement marks the first time that Iran has launched a military production line abroad.
Iran's opened a drone factory in Tajikistan to manufacture Ababil-2, according to Iranian media.pic.twitter.com/91fl4lg6Vk
— Kian Sharifi (@KianSharifi) May 17, 2022
Iran’s drone fleet is believed to have taken a serious blow in mid-February following an attack on an airbase near Kermanshah, in Western Iran, that destroyed hundreds of drones. Tehran officials have blamed Israel for the attack.
Israel has repeatedly warned that Iranian drones are a significant threat to the region — especially as Tehran arms proxies stationed along Israel’s borders.
In March, Israeli military officials said that Iran’s “UAV terror” is a new and global issue, accusing Tehran of directly attacking both military and civilian targets in the Middle East.
The IDF believes Iran is attempting to arm all of its proxies in the region — in Syria, Lebanon, Iraq, and Yemen — with hundreds and even thousands of UAVs, in addition to providing military training.
A series of incidents over the past few months indicate an escalation in the shadow conflict between Israel and Iran.
The Israeli military said Tuesday that Israeli troops downed a drone belonging to the Iran-backed Hezbollah terror group after it entered Israeli airspace from Lebanon.