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Attacks on Israel, REL: Iranian drones can wreak havoc

Attacks on Israel, REL: Iranian drones can wreak havoc

Iran has launched dozens of drones and ballistic missiles at Israel, launching an unprecedented attack against its sworn enemy. Among the drones used in the April 13 attack, according to Iranian state media, were Iranian Shahed-136 and Shahed-131 drones. These suicide drones have been used by pro-Iranian militant groups in the Middle East. Tehran has also been accused of sending them to Russia, so that it can then use them in the war in Ukraine.

Are drones effective?

The Shahed-136 and Shahed-131 suicide drones are cheap, but efficient, according to experts. Because of the equipment used to create them, and the noise they emit when they take flight, they are known by derisive names such as "lawn mowers" or "motorcycles". However, these low-flying drones that are destroyed on impact have proven to be both militarily and cost-effective.

"They can scratch when they get going," said Samuel Bendett of the Virginia-based Center for Naval Analyses.

John Krzyzaniak, a researcher at the Wisconsin Project on Nuclear Arms Control, has said that Iranian drones, like the Shahed-136, "can wreak havoc" if launched in large numbers. Their operational scale varies, but Iran states that the Shahed-136 drones can travel up to 2,500 kilometers.

How far can they go?

Their operational scale varies, but Iran states that the Shahed-136 drones can travel up to 2,500 kilometers. This has put Israel, which is about 1,000 kilometers from Iran, within the range of the attack. The Israeli military has said that Iran has launched about 170 drones, and all have been shot down. The other smaller and older Shahed-131 model is estimated to be able to travel up to 900 kilometers.

Launched in 2021, the Shahed-136 can fly at a top speed of 185 kilometers per hour, making it vulnerable to surveillance. Even the weight it can carry – about 50 kilograms – makes it more limited.

Does Iran have other drones?

Iran has recently become known for producing drones. It also produces the most advanced combat drones, including the Mohajer-6, as well as the Shahed-129 and Shahed-191. Jeremy Binnie, a Middle East defense specialist, has described the Shahed-129 as a "long-endurance surveillance and attack drone".

The Mohajer-6 drone can carry out attacks at a range of 200 kilometers. This drone, according to Binniet, is used to "penetrate deep into well-protected areas". In 2022, Iran established a drone factory for Ababil-2 attack drones in Tajikistan, Tehran's first such factory overseas.

Who else uses Iranian drones?

Iran is increasingly using its drones outside its borders. Experts believe that Tehran has used them for sabotage, reconnaissance and attack operations in the region. Iran has also supplied drones to its networks in the Middle East, including militant groups in Iraq, Syria and Yemen.

Houthi rebels in Yemen claim to have launched drones against Israel in recent months. Pro-Iranian militias in Iraq and Syria, meanwhile, have launched drone strikes against US forces. Analysts have said drones have made these groups more unpredictable. Iran has been accused of sending thousands of Shahed-129 and Shahed-191 drones to Russia, bolstering Moscow's military campaign in Ukraine. Tehran and Moscow reject these assumptions.

A type of suicide drone, manufactured by Iran, has been imported into Russia for use in the war in Ukraine. Under the new designation, the drone is known as "Geran-2," or Geranium-2. US officials have repeatedly accused Tehran of supplying Russia with Shahed-136 drones to destroy civilian infrastructure in Ukraine.

There are reports that Iranian drones have been rebranded as Russian Geran-2 drones for battlefield use. The Islamic Republic has been accused of selling combat drones to the army in Sudan, a country embroiled in a devastating civil war.


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