Iran has developed ‘over thirty-three models’ of drones

American experts admit sanctions fail to prevent Iran to becoming ‘prominent’ drone power 

January 16, 2023 - 21:28

TEHRAN - Eric Lob, an associate professor of politics and international relations at Florida International University, and Edward Riehle, a retired American colonel who works on advanced technologies, sensors, and sensor processing in Northern California, have admitted that Western sanctions on Iran have failed to prevent Iran from becoming a ‘prominent player’ in drone production.

“Western sanctions have been unable to prevent Iran from becoming a prominent player in the military drone market and sharing drone technology with partners inside and outside of the Middle East,” Lob and Riehle wrote in the National Interest on Sunday

The writers were referring to decade-old sanctions on Iranian drone manufacturers like the Quds Aviation and Aerospace Industries Organization (IAIO) and the Iran Aircraft Manufacturing Industries Corporation (HESA).

“For years, the United States has imposed sanctions against Iran’s military-industrial complex and manufacturing base, including entities like IAIO, HESA, Fajr Aviation Composite Industries (FACI), Iran Helicopter Support and Renewal Industries (PAHNA), and Iran Aircraft Industries (IACI), to name a few. Nevertheless, Iran’s aerospace sector and drone industry have continued to expand and thrive,” they said.

Like IAIO, HESA has been sanctioned by the United States, the European Union, and the United Kingdom for over a decade, the writers acknowledged in their article titled “The Difficulty of Disrupting Iranian Drones”.

“For years, the United States has imposed sanctions against Iran’s military complex and manufacturing base, including entities like IAIO, HESA... Nevertheless, Iran’s aerospace sector and drone industry have continued to expand and thrive,” they wrote.

They said Iran embarked on producing drones in the mid-1980s, when Iran was resisting the invading Saddam Army.

"Iran has manufactured and operated military drones since the Iran-Iraq War in the mid-1980s. With over thirty-three models, Iran’s highly developed, sophisticated military drone complex comprises one of the four pillars of its security strategy and force structure, complementing its missile technology, proxy forces, and cyberwarfare," Lob and Riehle stated.

"Drones have increasingly offered an asymmetric advantage to Iran," they pointed out, adding, "Drones have also enabled Iran to project power and earn profits, showcase technology and enhance prestige, strengthen alliances in the Middle East and beyond."

Earlier this month, the U.S. imposed sanctions against six executives and board members of Iran’s Quds Aviation Industries under the false pretext that the Islamic Republic had provided Russia with the UAVs to be used by Moscow against Ukraine, Press TV reported.

Iran, on repeated occasions, has roundly rejected Washington’s allegations. Last December, Iranian Defense Minister Brigadier General Mohammad Reza Ashtiani said Ukrainian officials had failed to provide any evidence for their claim that Russia was using Iranian drones in the Ukraine war.

Russia has similarly denied deploying any Iranian UAVs in the war on Ukraine.

Lob and Riehle also said that Iranian drones are less expensive than their “Western counterparts and have proven to be effective on the battlefield.”

Major General Mohammad Baqeri, the Iranian armed forces chief, said last month that the Islamic Republic is currently among the world’s top five powers in the unmanned aerial vehicles industry. He said Iran’s drones can carry out various missions with great accuracy and flight endurance.

In May 2022, Baqeri held a ribbon-cutting ceremony for a new Iranian drone factory in Tajikistan, its first offshore drone production facility.

Major Yahya Rahim Safavi, a top military advisor to the Leader of the Islamic Revolution, also said on October 18, 2022 that now 22 countries are seeking to buy drones from Iran.

“Today, we are at a point that 22 countries in the world have requested to buy unmanned aerial vehicles from Iran,” said Safavi, who was chief of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) from 1997 to 2007.

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