Iranian IRGC drone manufacturing and regional chaos

IRGC drone manufacturing in Iran, and variants of Iranian unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) made by the Islamic Republic’s proxies, are being used more and more often to cause chaos and destruction in the region.

Though proxy groups claim many of these attacks, evidence gleaned from the shrapnel and other threads of forensic evidence lead back to the Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), which sits like a spider at the centre of the web.

Iran’s position as the hub of regional drone operations is one that it proudly showcases, analysts noted, pointing to the Army Day celebrations the country held on April 18.

In recent years, drones have been at the centre of Iran’s destabilising actions in the Middle East. The Islamic Republic regularly adds new UAVs to its arsenal, and has become increasingly ambitious in their manufacture, use and export.

Some experts consider the Iranian IRGC drone program as much of a threat as its ballistic missiles.

“In recent years, Iran has increasingly used combat drones in military operations on both its eastern and western borders,” said Kerman-based political analyst Faramarz Irani.

Drones have been used in attacks on Iraq’s Kurdish region and against “some hostile groups in Afghanistan”, he said.

The Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Quds Force (IRGC-QF) frequently supplies Iranian-made drones to the Houthis — Iran’s proxies in Yemen, allied Iraqi militias and Lebanese Hezbollah, he said.

Iran also has exported its drones to Venezuela.

Weaponised Iranian UAVs have been used in Iraq, Lebanon, Yemen, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Saudi Arabia, including in the September 2019 attack on two Aramco oil facilities, claimed by the Houthis.

Iranian IRGC drone types showcased in the April 18 military parade were various models of Mohajer-6, Karrar, Nasser, Kayan-1, Kayan-2, Arash, Omid and Mohajer-4, IRGC-affiliated Fars News reported.

Kaman-22, the latest army-manufactured drone, described as a “strategic multi-tasking aircraft”, was displayed for the first time in Tehran on Army Day.

Iranian military officials claim it is in its final testing stages.

They say it can fly for 24 continuous hours at an altitude of 8,000 metres and has a 3,000km range. It reportedly weighs 1.5 tonnes and can carry up to 300kg of ammunition, laser-guided and smart missiles.

Iran’s Defa Press claims Kaman-22 can monitor, control, gather information and photograph distant targets.

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