Iran has built unmanned aircraft

February 19, 2009

TEHRAN (AP) – Iran has built an unmanned surveillance aircraft with a range of more than 600 miles, a top defense official said in remarks published Wednesday.

Deputy Defense Minister Ahmad Vahidi said he could not provide more details, only saying the development of the unmanned aircraft, or drone, was an ""important achievement."" His remarks were published Wednesday in Iran newspaper, and by the semiofficial Fars news agency.
Iran announced two years ago it had built an unmanned aircraft, but Vahidi's comments were the first by a top official revealing its range.
Wednesday's reports follow this week's announcement that Iran has restructured its military in an effort to improve its air defense capabilities.
The first word of the drone came in 2007, when the then-commander of the Revolutionary Guards, Gen. Yahya Rahim Safavi, said the unmanned device was designed to take photos of and gather information about enemy positions.
Iran also is seeking to develop a drone with attack capabilities.
In December, air force commander Gen. Hasan Shah Safi said Iranian experts had designed an unmanned aircraft with radar-evading devices that would be able to attack an enemy target and avoid detection. He said the military was working on building a prototype of the craft. He did not elaborate on what sort of weaponry the craft would be fitted with.
Since 2005, Tehran has accused the United States of flying surveillance drones over Iran's airspace to spy on its nuclear and military facilities.
Since 1992, Iran says it has produced its own jet fighters, torpedoes, radar-avoiding missiles, tanks and armored carriers.