Iranian satellite to spy on Ukraine as Russia strengthens Tehran ties

Iran has emerged as a leading manufacturer of armed drones. Last month, Russian President Vladimir Putin flew to Tehran for a trilateral meeting with Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Ahead of the meeting, officials had said that Mr Putin would ask for Iranian support for his war and supplies of drones.

Western intelligence has said that Russia lost a large proportion of its drones in the first few weeks of the war. It has also said that most of Russia’s Orlan drones are meant for reconnaissance, rather than attack missions.

Drones have played a major role in the Ukraine-Russia war.

Ukraine’s Turkish-made Bayraktar drones have hit Russian tanks and ships with missiles, while commercial drones have dropped hand grenades down tank hatches.

One of the best drones around

Iran’s Shahed 129 drone – a large unmanned vehicle that can fire anti-tank missiles and transmit pictures and video – is considered one of the best around.

Modeled on the US MQ-1 Predator and the Israeli Hermes 450, it has a wingspan slightly shorter than the length of a London bus and can fly at around 100 miles per hour up to a range of 130 miles.

Experts have described the Shahed 129 as “very capable” and the “backbone” of Iran’s drone fleet.

Russian officials have not commented but pro-Kremlin Russian military analysts have talked up the potential impact of the Shahed 129.

Gennady Alekhin, a Russian military analyst, said that they could be transferred to Donetsk rebel units.

“If the people’s militia receives its long-range attack drones [and that] power and accuracy of destruction, then the situation on the front line may change dramatically,” he told the Gazeta.ru news website.

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