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Are Iranian drones becoming the X-factor in war between Russia and Ukraine?

Iran’s Arash 2 Kamikaze drones are reported to be on their way to Russia as a sequel to the deadly Shahid-136s (Image courtesy: Twitter/@SprinterMonitor)

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on Wednesday lashed out at Iran for supplying killer drones to Russia.

An angry Zelensky, according to the publication Kyiv Independent, asserted that the Russians had used 400 Iranian-made Shahed-136 Kamikaze drones to cause several explosions in Kyiv, which targeted civilians.

The daily also stressed that earlier, on October 17, Russia rammed 43 drones in Ukraine. Also 28 drones were deployed later to kill five people in the capital Kyiv.

The export of Iranian drones, used to stunning effect should not come as a surprise. 11 years ago, the Iranians Tehran’s former Defence Minister Ahmad Vahidi, according to IRNA said

“Iran is in a unique position in all areas, including manufacture of unmanned reconnaissance aircraft, as well as defence and assault airplanes. Iran has also made great progress in electronic warfare technology, aviation industries and missile technology.”

He also lauded Iranian scientists for enabling the capture of the RQ-170 Sentinel, a sophisticated U.S. surveillance. drone. The bat-shaped radar evading drone, used for the purpose of surveillance was first photographed at a Kandahar airfield in 2009.  It was apparently used for surveillance before the US Naval Seals killed Osama bin Laden in a safe house in Abbottabad in Pakistan.

The Iranians claim that they had hacked into the computer of RQ-170 Sentinel, and forced the drone to land in Iran, triggering speculation that the Iranians may have reverse-engineered the drone and inducted it into its arsenal.

In October 2013, the Lebanese Hizbollah — Iran’s top regional ally — had flown an Iranian drone deep inside Israeli territory amid speculation that it may have surveyed the Dimona nuclear complex.

The Ukrainians claim that on September 23, they had shot down the Mohajer-6, a likely derivative of RQ-170 Sentinel, over the Black Sea.

According to the US Army’s Training and Doctrine Command (TRADOC) website, the Mohajer-6 is an Intelligence, Surveillance, Target Acquisition, and Reconnaissance (ISTAR) UAV capable of carrying a multispectral surveillance payload and up to two precision-guided munitions, the website Eurasia Times.com is reporting.

The Shahed-136 kamikaze drones that the Russians appear to have received in larger numbers are estimated to have a 2,500-kilometre range. They can carry warheads weighing between 5-30 kilograms.

Also Read: Russia’s response will be harsh, says Putin hours after missiles and drones rain on Kyiv and other Ukrainian cities