Iran has supplied two different types of UAVs to Russia, the Shahed-136 suicide drone and the Shahed-131. Russian Military got a good boost after using these drones in the ongoing Russia-Ukraine War. Although recently, Iran’s Foreign Ministry has confirmed that it has not supplied UAVs to Russia for use in Ukraine, despite the fact that Kiev has already presented a lot of evidence. In this article, i will explain the advantages of Iranian-supplied UAVs for Russia in comparison to Russian-made UAVs.
After Ukraine used the US-supplied Switchblade suicide drone on the battlefield, it was not really effective because of Russian electronic suppression methods. The Russian side also brought the Lancet suicide drone, which has the armor penetration capability of about 600 mm. However, the effect of this Russian UAV is also not too good.
Compared with Javelin anti-tank missiles, the above suicide UAVs of the US and Russia have a larger range (UAV Switchblade 600 has a range of up to 80 km) and lower cost per unit. In addition, these types of UAVs, which have smart fuses and choose the right time to attack, can even destroy tanks if used properly according to a good strategy.
Meanwhile, Iran’s UAVs, including suicide UAVs and other armed and reconnaissance UAVs, are considered to have a level of modernity on par with some US and Western-made UAVs.
Regarding the capabilities of the Iranian UAVs, praise must be given to Tehran; because under the harshest blockades and sanctions imposed by the Western world, they were still able to create such an impressively advanced drone.
The engine of Iran’s suicide UAV is actually a two-stroke engine of a motorcycle, with a capacity of 50 horsepower. So the Shahed-136 drones were nicknamed “mopeds”, because of the “very characteristic” sound of motorcycles.
Although the Shahed-136 UAV does not fly fast, it hits the target quite far and is quite accurate. But the important thing is that the Shahed-136 suicide drone has a small size, it is difficult to detect and shoot down such a small target.
The flying altitude of the suicide UAV Shahed-136 is only 40 meters; At this altitude, ground-based radars are almost powerless to detect such a small and low-flying target and it is a “headache” for many air defense systems, when launching a missile at a such a small target, does not mean that the shot will hit it.
Overall, some experts now openly say that Iran’s Shahed-136 suicide drone has become the most powerful suicide drone in the world, in terms of cost effectiveness and performance.
The Iranian Shahed-136 are more advanced in terms of advantages, because they don’t even require one-tenth of the high-tech components required by the West. The key structure is very simple and amazing, it can hit not only ground targets but also air targets.
In addition to the Shahed-136 UAV, Iran’s Shaheed-129 long-range UAV is also very good; according to some information, this may be a UAV model copied from the US MQ-1 Predator UAV. But they are much simpler and cheaper than UAVs in the same segment as the Predator or the Turkish TB-2 UAV.
The Shahid-136 engine makes a lot of noise, especially when the Shahid is flying at low altitudes; because it is designed to be used only once, so it is many times cheaper than similar US or Turkish UAVs. The Shahed-136 launch system is also implemented in a very special way, when the launcher is on a motor vehicle, it can be deployed anywhere.
One question is why does Russia not have a drone like the Shaheed-136? Up to this point, it can be said that, despite Russia’s great potential, a large number of Russian design bureaus and factories do not have such good performance UAVs.
According to research, the destroyed UAVs on the Ukrainian battlefield show that only the body is Russian, while the important part is the engine and control components imported from abroad.
Russia’s suicide UAVs, has lower specifications than Iran’s Shaheed-136, have a poor flight speed of only 130 km/h, a range of 60 km, and a combat payload of 3 kg. UAV “Lancet-1”, capable of carrying a warhead weighing up to 1 kg; maximum flight speed 110 km/h, maximum flight time 30 minutes.
UAV “Lancet-3”, the payload is larger than the UAV “Lancet-1” when it can carry a warhead of up to 5 kg. The speed is in the range of 80-110 km/h and the flight time is up to 40 minutes. That is, the average range of both types of “Lancet-1/3” does not exceed 60 km; while Iran’s Shaheed-136 UAV has a maximum range of 300km.
Unfortunately, Russian-made UAVs are clearly of inferior quality compared to countries with a similar aviation background and strict sanctions like Iran.
Iran is an underdeveloped country, but it also has talented engineers. They can order electronic components and non-manufacturable parts via online e-commerce and build a military UAV with two cameras, which can easily perform reconnaissance of ground targets and transmitted to headquarters in real time.
According to many experts, Russia just started focusing on research on developing drones not long ago, not enough time and experience to immediately catch up with the technology of the US, China or even Iran. It is this that has made the Russian UAVs appear to be inferior to the US weapons of the same type on the Ukrainian battlefield.