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Iran unvails new drones 16, April 2010

Posted by thegulfblog.com in Iran, Israeli-Palestinian Conflict.
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Iran’s military has announced that they have produced unmanned aeriel vehicles (UAVs) that can both gather intelligence and strike hostile targets. Whilst they will be no where near as advanced as the US’ predator and reaper drones used in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan, they will nevertheless cause some consternation. UPI reports that the US Secretary of Defence Robert Gates voiced concerns that Iran’s new drones could “create difficulty” for the US in Iraq and Afghanistan. He even put forward the much-loved US hypothetical of such technologies falling into the hands of terrorists.

It seems more likely that whilst these drones will certainly have some tactical use for Iran’s military, given that the Israelis recently officially announced that they had produced a drone that could reach Iran, they simply had no choice but maintain parity with their chosen enemy of recent times.

Iran’s indigenous defence industry has been progressing for years now since US sanctions forced them to look inward to meet their needs. However, whilst aspects of this industry are thought to be well-funded, in reality Iran simply cannot match the level of technological sophistication of Western powers or even of their Arab neighbours who buy top-class Western kit. I would be surprised, therefore, despite the Iranian fan-fare, if these drones really posed that much of a new threat. However, being no Iranian military expert, I stand ready to be corrected…

As a brief aside it is interesting to note that Iran’s desperation for spare parts for their air force during the 1980s and their Iraq war, led them to deal intimately with the Israelis. Back then both Israel and Iran were united despite their ideological differences by an all-consuming fear of Iraq. Whatever Khomeini’s rhetoric towards Tel Aviv, his trading of oil for spare parts is a perfect example of realpolitik.

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