The Islamic Republic Claims Exceptional UAV Capacity
IRGC Maj. General Hossein Salami made claims about Iran’s exceptional UAV and ballistic missile capacity. Below Overt Operator compares these claims with international records on precision-strike UAVs.
In recent statements, Iran's Major General Hossein Salami has announced the development of a new capability that allows Iran's drones to strike "any part" of a vessel with "precision accuracy." Salami has made additional claims about Iran possessing exclusive drone technology savvy.
However, arms control organizations and missile watch groups highlight a list of national players with advanced drone capabilities, that includes a broader competitive field and more players than Salami stated.
Claim: Iran has exceptional long-distance strike drone capabilities, exclusive within a group of “three” other nations, Iranian media outlets stated.
During his praise of Iranian weapons tech advancements, Salami stated that strikes could be made from "thousands of miles away," as he was quoted by the English language version of “Al Manar TV”, a Lebanon-based broadcasting service.
UAVs and Distance Operation
Modern UAVs can be monitored from controls rooms thousands of miles away from the physical combat zone, the Friends Committee on National Legislation explained in a report on the mental health of drone pilots.
Longest Distance Drone Operation Recorded
Currently, University of California, Irvine, citing the achievement acknowledgement from Guinness World Records, explained that the further distance an operator could control a UAV from is 11,440 miles.
The maximum distance between two points on earth, the university explained, is 12,450 miles. The distance operation was achieved by University of California, Irvine’s Peter Burke (USA) and Patrick Jeanty (France) from Irvine, California on December 21, 2021, Guinness World Records notes.
The University of Irvine announced the record in February 2023, which gained local media attention in June, and does not appear to have been publicly broken since.
This successful operation shows that Western academia has also achieved extreme distance drone operations, highlighting the emerging international capacity of extreme distance drones.
Iran Counterpart Drone
Military tech reports also find that advanced Iranian drone aircraft have counterparts in the field.
Records of precision capable drones find that the United States Air Force’s MQ-9 Reaper is leading expectations of drone capacity as a choice drone among nations with advanced weapons capabilities. These drones are used as “capital ships” for other drones by the USAF, and are being considered as competitors for “one-way attacks” in the Middle East, directly combating its Iranian drone counterpart.
Speaking at a conference of medical students in Tehran, Salami highlighted the role of artificial intelligence in achieving the well-praised Iranian weapons capability. He likewise expressed the view that Iran is among the three countries that possess the technical know-how to incorporate pinpoint accuracy into ballistic missiles, “Mehr News Agency” quoted.
Despite Salami's claims, Iran is listed among a chart of 31 countries who possess ballistic missiles, and is included as a suspect nation in a list of nine nations possessing nuclear weapons, the Arms Control Association analyzed in August. Long distance precision strike ballistic missiles are also referred to as "intercontinental missiles."
Nations with precision missile capacity include the United States, Russia, China, France, India, the United Kingdom, Israel, North Korea and Iran, the Center for Strategic and International Studies' Missile Threat Group explained.
Iran and Foreign Weapons Export
Salami's remarks come in the wake of Chief of Staff of the Iranian Armed Forces Major General Mohammad Baqeri's statement last month, where he revealed that the demand for Iran's domestically developed unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) far surpasses its production capacity.
Iran, once under arms embargoes on the purchase of foreign-made weapons, now faces export bans on its own military products.
Baqeri claimed that several major world powers are vying to purchase Iranian weapons, indicating the country's rise as a significant player in the drone industry. Iran has transformed into a "big drone power," outperforming major world powers in this field, according to the commander.
In recent history, Russia has been identified as a world power interested in buying weapons technology from the Islamic Republic of Iran. Iran likewise supplies advanced weapons to its Middle East and regional allies.
The development of this new capability signifies Iran's continued investment in its military technology. By incorporating artificial intelligence into their drones, Iran has gained the ability to strike targets with precision from great distances. This achievement not only enhances their defensive capabilities but also establishes Iran as a key player in the global arms market.
UAV Demand and Iran’s Stability
The demand for Iran's UAVs has surged in recent years, reportedly surpassing the country's production capacity. This demonstrates the effectiveness and reliability of Iran's drone technology, attracting the attention of major world powers.
Despite facing export bans on its military products, Iran's position as a leading drone power has solidified, putting the country in a unique position in the global arms industry.
The development of this new capability also raises questions about the potential implications for regional stability. As Iran continues to strengthen its military technology, neighboring countries and international actors may feel the need to reassess their own defense strategies. The precision and range of Iran's drones could potentially disrupt the balance of power in the region.
Major General Salami's announcement of Iran's new capability to strike vessels with precision from “thousands of miles away” highlights the country's investment in advancing military technology further. The incorporation of artificial intelligence into their drones has propelled Iran into the ranks of major world powers in terms of drone capabilities.
Fact Check: While Iran possesses advanced UAV capacities, the competitive window of advanced and emerging UAV and ballistic missile technology production is wider than the claim implies, involving many international producers and researchers.
With a growing demand for their UAVs, Iran's position in the global arms market continues to strengthen. This development also raises concerns about regional stability and the potential impact on the balance of power in the region.