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Iran unveils 'biggest missile-equipped drone'

Defence Minister says drone Fotros has range of 2,000km, capable of covering much of the Middle East.

Last updated: 19 Nov 2013 01:39
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Iran has been building its drone capabilities for reconnaissance missions and combat operations [Al Jazeera]

Iran has unveiled the biggest missile-equipped drone yet to be developed in the Islamic republic, the official IRNA news agency has reported.

Defence Minister Hossein Dehghan said on Monday that the reconnaissance and combat drone Fotros had a range of 2,000km, capable of covering much of the Middle East, including Israel.

"The Fotros drone has an operational range of 2,000km and can fly at an altitude of 25,000 feet, with a flight time of 16 to 30 hours," he said.

“This drone is able to carry out reconnaissance missions and carry air-to-surface rockets for combat operations,'' the official IRNA news agency quoted Dehghan as saying.

The earlier Shahed-129 (Witness-129) drone is reported to have a similar range, but can only stay aloft 24 hours.

The aircraft was tested "successfully" and "shows that sanctions imposed by the enemies are not an obstacle to the progress of the defence industry," the minister told the unveiling ceremony.

He said the new drone is a key strategic addition to Iran's military capabilities, and was developed despite tough sanctions against Iran over its suspect nuclear programme.

“Sanctions by enemies can't create an obstacle in the path of progress for our defense industries,'' IRNA quoted him as saying.

Self-sufficiency programme

Sanctions were imposed on Iran for its refusal to halt uranium enrichment, a programme that can be used to produce nuclear fuel or materials for a warhead.

In late September, the elite Revolutionary Guards announced the mass production of the "Shahed 129" drone, which it said has a range of 1,700km.

In the same month, Iran unveiled a reconnaissance drone named "Yasseer," which was said to be capable of flying for eight hours with a range of 200km and at an altitude of 4,500 meters.

Yasseer was based on the US ScanEagle drone, a model of which Tehran claimed to have captured in December last year and reproduced since then.

The Iranian army also recently boasted that it was producing a series of drones called Rad-85.

Iran has pursued a military self-sufficiency programme since 1980s, and frequently announces technological breakthroughs including the building of jet fighters, tanks, missile, submarines, torpedoes and drones. Most cannot be independently confirmed.

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