At least 18 advanced armored drones were delivered by Iran to the Russian Navy last November, sources close to the operation have revealed. Russian officers who visited Iran in November selected six Mohajer-6 drones and 12 Shahed 191 and 129 drones from Tehran’s stocks.
The drones have a range of around 200 km and can carry two missiles under each wing with advanced air-to-ground strike capability, an expose in the Guardian has revealed.
They are also designed to deliver bombs and return to base unscathed unlike the so-called kamikaze drones used so far by Vladimir Putin’s military against Ukraine.
The revelation comes as a confirmation of US and UK’s intelligence accusations against Tehran’s involvement in the Ukraine war since August 2022.
In November, US intelligence said that Russia took delivery of 1,000 drones from Iran at the end of August.
Iran has denied exporting any weapons for use in Ukraine, but Volodymyr Zelensky’s government still expelled Iran’s ambassador from the country at the time.
An investigation by the National Resistance Center portal, and confirmed by sources talking to The Guardian, which was created by the Ukrainian Armed Forces’ Special Operations Forces, found that the Mohajer, Arash-1, Arash-2, Shahed-131, and Shahed -136 UAVs drones that Russia is using in the war are delivered from Iran via air and sea routes.
According to the investigation, the following companies fly the drones and instructors to Russia: Iran Air (a state airline controlled by the Iranian Ministry of Infrastructure); Pouya Air (part of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps or IRGC); Saha Airlines (part of the Iranian Air Force); the privately owned Mahan Air.
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The NRC also claimed that as Russia is actively shipping stolen Ukrainian grain to Syria on the Sevastopol-Tartus route, Iranian drones and components for them could be transported in containers from a Syrian factory in the opposite direction.
However, they emphasized that they did not have a clear confirmation of this hypothesis.
Besides Syria, a UAV assembly plant has been operating in Tajikistan since May.