ISRAEL AT WAR - DAY 148

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Ukraine’s battlefields could supply Iran with fresh Western tech to ape, expert says

Researcher cites Russia’s growing cooperation with Tehran and Islamic Republic’s use of stolen Western parts in drones now being used against Kyiv

Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu (right) and Iranian Defense Minister Gen. Mohammad Reza Gharaei Ashtiani greet each other during their meeting in Moscow, Russia, April 25, 2023. (Russian Defense Ministry Press Service via AP)
Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu (right) and Iranian Defense Minister Gen. Mohammad Reza Gharaei Ashtiani greet each other during their meeting in Moscow, Russia, April 25, 2023. (Russian Defense Ministry Press Service via AP)

Russia could supply Iran with Western technology it captures on the battlefields of Ukraine, which Tehran could then use to further its weapons development programs, an expert told US media on Friday, as the two countries tighten their military cooperation.

Tehran and Moscow have strengthened their ties following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, with Iran supplying attack drones that have dive-bombed infrastructure and other civilian targets across Ukraine. After initially denying that it had armed Russia, in November, Iran acknowledged the drones’ transfer, while claiming it took place before the war began — an assertion Western powers reject.

Taimur Khan, a Gulf analyst at the Conflict Armament Research group, told CNN that “given the fact that Russia is capturing sophisticated Western weapons on the battlefield – such as the Javelin anti-tank missile – and that there is increasing military cooperation between the two countries, and Iran has proven capabilities in this regard, I think it’s likely that they will collaborate on copying these types of systems.”

Israel, the US and many other Western countries have sounded the alarm about the deepening cooperation between Tehran and Moscow, as they both face greater global isolation and mounting economic sanctions.

Iran has already proven its ability to utilize stolen Western-made technology to advance its own weapons program.

According to a report by CAR released this month, evidence collected from downed Iranian Shahed-136 kamikaze drones in Ukraine confirmed that its motor was reverse-engineered from German tech by the Iranian Oje Parvaz Mado Nafar Company — or Mado.

Iran-made drones are displayed in a ceremony marking their handing over to the nation’s army, April 20, 2023. (Iranian Army via AP)

In 2009, the company’s predecessor used German-made drone engines illegally acquired by Iran three years prior to develop its own UAV engine.

Investigators have found the serial numbers erased from downed craft, an apparent attempt by Mado, which is under Western sanctions, to disguise its role in their development.

A Wall Street Journal report in November also suggested 75 percent of components of Iranian drones felled in Ukraine were originally produced in the US.

The conclusion was based on an analysis of several downed drones, including a Mohajer-6 UAV that was hacked in midair and landed intact, the report said.

While the vast majority of the components studied by the experts were determined to have originated in the US or in Japan, others were produced in China or Germany.

In addition, the Mohajer-6’s telescopic infrared lens, used for surveillance and attack purposes, the report said, “appears to be identical to a model made by an Israeli firm, Ophir Optronics Solutions Ltd., according to photos of the device in the Mohajer-6 and corporate brochures reviewed by the Journal.”

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