Most Iranians have watched the movie ‘Mohajer’, a war-time cine production based on a true story depicting the start of drone operations in Iran during the closing years of the Iraqi imposed war in the 1980s.
The Iranian armed forces actually started using Unmanned Arial Vehicles (UAVs), including drones, the same years mostly for intelligence gathering, including imaging, and bombing operations.
Over 25 years later, now the Iranian armed forces are using hi-tech drones for every possible mission, from logistics to surveillance, combat, and even suicide operations.
The Iranian Army Ground Force started the structural use of UAVs in 1994, but it actually established the first independent UAV unit in 2011, when it launched Vali-e Asr Drone Group, with a number of subsidiary units operating from Ground Force bases throughout the country.
In the 90s and 20s, most drone operations pertained to surveillance and imaging missions, but after the Ground Force implemented its Samen Comprehensive Restructuring Plan in 2011, Army commanders realized that their UAV units are capable enough to conduct every mission and they, thus, first established Vali-e Asr Drone Group on July 5, 2011, and then its numerous subsidiary units across Iran.
The UAV units of the Iranian Ground Force, similar to their peers across the world, operate in the three main areas of intelligence gathering, combat and bombing operations, and logistics. The Ground Force UAV units currently carry out 11 different missions in these three areas.
In surveillance and reconnaissance missions, the Ground Force UAV units conduct intelligence gathering and imaging operations not just along, but over a 100 miles beyond the Iranian borderline to monitor every move and operation made by the trans-regional military forces deployed in Iran’s neighboring countries.
The drone and UAV units of the Iranian Ground Force are monitoring and imaging all moves in these areas and wire real-time information, data and images to command centers and border units, empowering them to be fully informed of every hostile move made in areas near Iran’s borders.
As regards combat and bombing operations, the Ground Force has equipped its UAVs with various types of bombs, missiles and rockets enabling them to destroy even mobile targets. The Ground Force has recently manufactured a new drone for suicide missions.
The UAV units are also operating for logistical purposes, including transfer of small cargos, including medicines.
Iran’s first drone, Mohajer, could fly 50km deep into hostile territories. Later Iran manufactured M2 with a flying range of 100km. Its advanced version, Shahin can fly 150km deep into the enemy territories mainly for surveillance missions. The flying range of the latest version of Shahin has been increased to 200km and now the army plans to still increase this range to 400km.
Ra’d 85 combat drone with a flying range of 100km is the specialized UAV of the Ground Force which can destroy targets with a maximum precision capability.
Ground Force Commander General Ahmad Reza Pourdastan told the media earlier this year that his forces will soon start employing a new kind of drone for suicide missions.
Army commanders say all the parts and technology for designing and manufacturing these UAVs have been indigenized and their needs are met domestically.