Iran’s navy on Wednesday released a photo of what’s being called a “suicide drone” that can be loaded with explosive materials and deliberately crashed into targets at sea and on land.
The announcement was carried by Iran’s semi-official Tasnim news agency.
While Iranian officials said the drone “can carry payloads of explosives for combat missions” and “collide with the target and destroy it, (whether) a vessel or an onshore command center” it also noted that the drone’s primary purpose is maritime surveillance. It “has not been designed to be armed with missiles,” Tasnim said.
The small, pilotless aircraft can nevertheless fly for up to four hours and has a range of about 600 miles. It can fly as high as 3,000 feet and as low as 20 inches above the Earth’s surface. Its camera can be used at night and in “damp sea conditions.”
Tasnim did not release any photos of the drone in flight. Rather, it published a few pictures of it in an office atop a Persian-style rug. A water cooler is visible in the background. The news agency is considered to have close ties to Iran’s paramilitary Revolutionary Guards. Earlier this month, Iranian media reported the Revolutionary Guards had, through reverse-engineering, built a drone similar to the RQ-170 Sentinel used by the American military.
Iran claimed it shot down an RQ-170 Sentinel drone five years ago.
The U.S. military has relied increasingly on drones for combat missions. President Obama signed an executive order earlier this year that seeks to prevent non-combatants from being killed in drone strikes. That came after figures — as of July 1 — showed more than 64 civilians have been killed in 473 drone strikes authorized by Obama since 2009.
Iran or its proxies have had a series of tense encounters with the U.S. Navy. Recently, Tehran-backed Shia Muslim Houthi rebels from Yemen fired missiles at U.S. Navy ships in the Red Sea. In January, Iran captured 10 U.S. sailors after their two small Navy vessels strayed into Iranian waters.
Source: USA Today