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Iran Unveils Its Biggest Drone Yet

by Brendan McGarry on November 18, 2013

Fotros

Iran says it has built its biggest type of drone yet, an unmanned plane that it claims could fly to Israel and other countries in the Middle East.

The remote-controlled aircraft, known as Fotros and designed for surveillance or strike missions, was displayed during a ceremony Monday at the Iranian Armed Forces Aviation Industries Organization in Tehran, according to the state-run Press TV news organization.

The actual size of the drone wasn’t reported. But the aircraft supposedly has an operational radius of as much as 2,000 kilometers (about 1,250 miles), a service ceiling of up to 25,000 feet and an endurance of up to 30 hours, according to the article, which cited Iranian Defense Minister Brig. Gen. Hossein Dehqan. He touted its ability to carry munitions such as air-to-surface missiles, as well as its reconnaissance applications.

“The protection of maritime and land borders, monitoring of oil pipelines and telecommunications lines, road traffic control, the surveillance of areas struck by earthquakes, blazes and floods, environmental monitoring for the sake of environment protection, and the transmission of precise images and films throughout the mission are among the capabilities of the Fotros drone,” Dehqan said, according to the report.

It’s at least the fourth drone developed by the Islamic Republic of Iran, though like the country’s other military technology, the aircraft’s performance and quality remain in question.

Iran in 2010 unveiled the long-range Karrar drone, which reportedly has an operational radius of 1,000 kilometers (about 620 miles) and the capacity to carry two 115-kilogram bombs or a precision-guided munition weighing 227 kilograms, according to the article.

In 2012, it followed up with its first medium-altitude unmanned aircraft, known as the Shahed-129, to fly combat or surveillance missions lasting as long as a day, the news organization reported.

And earlier this year, the country’s ground forces unveiled a low-altitude drone, Yasir, which can supposedly fly as high as 15,000 feet for as long as eight hours and as far as 200 kilometers (about 125 miles), according to the article.

Israel has robust air defenses designed to deal with a range of threats, presumably including those the size of Iran’s new Fotros drone.

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