Thursday, 10 April 2014

Iran deploying her newest drones to Syria: The Shahed 129

By Stijn Mitzer and Joost Oliemans

After the spotting of Iranian Yasir UAVs in Syria, it appears another Iranian made drone took to the Syrian skies: The Shahed 129 Unmanned Combat Aerial Vehicle (UCAV). Footage of the UCAV, overflying East Ghouta, Damascus can be seen here, here and here.

The Shahed 129 was unveiled in late 2012 and entered mass production in September 2013 for the Aerospace Force of the Army of the Guardians of the Islamic Revolution. According to Iranian sources the Shahed 129 has an operational radius of 1,700 km, a monitoring capability of 200 km and a flight endurance of twenty-four hours while flying at 7,315 m (24.000 feet).[1] 

The Shahed 129 flying over Eastern Ghouta likely belongs to the third batch manufactured. Apart from the possibility to carry weapons and the retractable landing gear already seen in the second batch, the antenna, enlarged propellers and a new v-tail appear to be the most recent additions. Reports about an enlarged nose section similar to the MQ-9 Reaper are false. A logical mistake caused by the reflection of sunlight.

The Shahed 129 could turn out to be a true game-changer for Assad. It is also capable of effectively taking over some roles of the air force's fighter-bombers and helicopters, which are already overstretched. The Shahed 129s are likely to be bassed at Mezze AFB.

The sighting the of Shahed 129, obviously Iranian operated and delivered on board on one of the many Iranian transport flights to Syria, shows the extent to which the Iranians are prepared to support Assad. It's only a question of time before more Iranian weapons are spotted in Syria.

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  1. why do you consider drones a game changer ?
    what makes them so potent vs a jet or helicopter for example ?

    1. A drone is most cheaper than any jet or helicopter in terms of purchase, maintenance, fuel, etc...

      It can spot the ennemy.It's more accurate than a jet bombing or a barrel bomb throwed from an helicopter. It it can fly over the battlefield much longer than the jet/helicopter.etc,etc...

      The arrival of the UCAV in the Syrian army side in a big game change that will change it will change the course of battle on the ground. For example, when a checkpoint is attacked a drone can be sent for support the attacked soldiers and strike the position of the attackant much longer than today (the syrian air force can carry very few jet bombing and must return to base )

      This UCAV can also harass the rear line of the ennemie by bomb their ammunition support that comming from the Jordan for example.

      I don't know when the armed version of this Shahed 129 will appear but when it will be here it will change many things on the ground so long as they be sent in enough exemplary by Iran.

    2. and lets not forget on loss of life on the SAA side