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Iran Unveils Its Biggest Drone Yet

by Brendan McGarry on November 18, 2013


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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{ 42 comments… read them below or add one }

@AValencia_Alfa November 18, 2013 at 5:27 pm

Look this image by Roberto_Yeager (www.ejercitos.org)

manufactured excelent…. :-)))


Clint Notestine November 18, 2013 at 6:06 pm

cardboard is always hard to fit together


Kiumars November 18, 2013 at 8:22 pm

You are right; wings are too short, tail is too long, nose is too big, it is made of cardboard; etc, etc, but watch this video to see how it flies! watch?v=UCOTeggoXrU


scott November 19, 2013 at 9:55 am

this is funny i cant keep a straight face


JCross November 18, 2013 at 11:28 pm

Although this is clearly not actually a usable drone, this may be a mockup of a real design. Sometimes the Iranians actually produce what they show off. Sometimes.


Vaughn November 19, 2013 at 8:20 am

Come-on folks, they didn’t just get off a camel. I spent 2+ years in Iran, 1+ in Bushehr on the Persian Gulf when they updated from F-5A/Bs to E/Fs. Then 1+ year’s in Teheran at Iran Aircraft Industries where we (Americans) trained and supported there aviation efforts, also don’t forget that Bell Helicopter built a plant also in Iran. They are still flying F-4/5s probably P-3s, C-130s and don’t forget F-14s if I remember it was just a few years ago that they flew in an air show, let alone the aircraft they inherited from Iraq and purchased since then. While I was in Teheran they reversed engineered a Check. Glider and built two that flew and that was back I 1975/6.
With more $$ than sense you can do anything, and also since they are hard line Islamist’s they can tell us infidels anything that the want and expect us to believe………


Chuck November 18, 2013 at 7:05 pm

How exactly do they plan on communicating with the drone over-the-horizon? It's got a hump for the satellite dish. Will Iran use its extensive satellite communications network for command-and-control?


Clint Notestine November 18, 2013 at 7:49 pm

maybe a mother ship of sorts?


Kiumars November 18, 2013 at 8:10 pm

Controlling the drone does not need satellites; one or two radio relay stations in Lebanon; Syria or Iraq is more than enough


NathanS November 18, 2013 at 9:40 pm
Hunter76 November 19, 2013 at 8:10 am

The Heron, upon which this is based, can fly autonomously. That is to say you give it a mission, it flies whatever route based on GPS, conducts its mission, flies back home and lands.


Charles James Haas November 18, 2013 at 7:42 pm

Seems like the wings are not very wide also (front to back). Hard to imagine they would provide the needed lift and stability. The wings certainly would preclude deploying any weapons on it. The cameral ball seems very small also. Might fit one camera in it, but not much else. So, even if it could go to Israel, they would just soot it down with great ease. There is no threat here.


Charles James Haas November 18, 2013 at 7:44 pm

Oh, just because they show some type of missile on it doesn't mean it would actually be capable of flying with it.


hibeam November 18, 2013 at 8:22 pm

The Iranians would establish air supremacy over Israel. They would then use their drones to attack targets of opportunity. Finally the Quds force would sweep in on flying carpets to secure Tel Aviv.


Rest Pal November 19, 2013 at 5:07 pm

Iran should consider buying China's J-31 (the recently developed stealth fighter jet for export) and the low cost light fighter jet JF-17. Iran can pay for the jets with oil.


Scar2 November 28, 2013 at 3:05 am

Knowing China ,who says they are not already :-)!


PolicyWonk November 18, 2013 at 9:32 pm

I see the model shop in Iran is staying busy. Its nice to know someone in that nation has steady employment (besides the mullahs).


Brad Davis November 23, 2013 at 3:31 pm

Ha ha !


Auyong Ah Meng November 18, 2013 at 10:27 pm

Looks plastic or spastic to me for some strange reason…zzz


rtsy November 19, 2013 at 12:19 am

The commentators on this site are a little ridiculous.
Everyone drools over the drone tech from the US but when Iran starts to catch up it's all a joke. Iran will no doubt use this tech within it's own borders to continue oppressing it's own people.
Drone tech is a legitimate capability for just about any nation willing to spend the time on it nowadays. Accept it and stop denying reality.


Sev November 20, 2013 at 10:30 am

Nothing to drool over badly glued together pieces of cardboard. Reminds me of their "Stealth" fighter jet that looks about the same size as those little quarter operated plane rides in the mall.


Zspoiler November 19, 2013 at 1:26 am

Look maw more targets


Brian Black November 19, 2013 at 4:37 am
Beno November 19, 2013 at 5:14 am

This is from the nation that "landed" an RQ170 stealth drone. Something they shouldnt have been even able to see. never mind touch.
Underestimating other nations inginuity can cost the US in more than dollars.
Compared to that act, ( and the tech they aquired within an RQ170), makes that lump look quite do-able.
We (NATO, as im British) need to be less complacent.


Harry Canyon November 19, 2013 at 7:15 am

Looks almost exactly like an Israeli Heron.


Hunter76 November 19, 2013 at 8:04 am

1) The craft shown in pic could be a mockup.

2) That notwithstanding, clearly it's something. There are videos showing it taking off and landing. (eg, see video1 in Fotros at Wikipedia.) No telling it's capabilities, though– it could just be an remote-controlled model.

3) Canyon is right, it's a copy of the Heron– right down to the claimed payload.

4) The experts here who say the wings are too short, the nose too big, etc, are clearly talking through their hats.


Dfens November 19, 2013 at 9:19 am

We have bigger drones. Almost all of our defense contractors have plenty of drones bigger than that. Our military too, for that matter.


scott November 19, 2013 at 9:56 am

it looks like a predator but with a double tail beam and fin


Big-B November 19, 2013 at 10:26 am

Its a HERON copy… just google :-)

At least the iran "experts" are improving their mockups, remember their "stealth fighter" and the video on youtube? Or the photoshop missiles? Compared to theses jokes this Heron copy looks a lot better although i doubt it will be flyable within the next decade. And who needs GPS guidance when you have little monkey astronauts who are surely qualified to fly this Heron copy :-D


Kuzinov November 19, 2013 at 12:46 pm

Yes, Iranians are totally stupid and incapable of building anything. I totally didn't share a public bus every morning with a bunch of Iranian engineering students attending South Eastern Massachusetts University which is a great school for engineering. While posters spout how they're just camel riding idiots, I wonder where those guys are now.


Big-B November 20, 2013 at 5:11 am

if they are smart they are not in Iran after the university ;-)

I know some guys from Iran myself, but they call themself persians, calling them iran is an insult for them. They are as smart as every other people with proper education and they dislike the iran gov. (they fled from iran in 1979)

Imagine a new pro-western gov in iran: millions of customers for all the stuff nobody needs and tons of oil. Iran could be more prosperous than Saudi Arabia. But their gov is not that smart…yet?


blight_ November 20, 2013 at 9:03 am

Not every Iranian living in the states distances themselves from their homeland so aggressively by calling themselves "Persian". It's probable many in the older generation might. That said, the opportunities back home are somewhat more limited.


Kuzinov November 20, 2013 at 2:13 pm

You also need to take into account it was the earlier 80s, these guys were patriotic to their home country. Americans have a bad habit of forgetting why the Iranian Revolution took place to begin with, and I'm sure many Iranians looked at it as a step up from the Shah.

Still, my point is that Iran has plenty of smart, technical types around and I find it foolish to automatically assume they can't accomplish building things or back-engineer them(actually harder to do than making something new sometimes).


Lance November 19, 2013 at 1:23 pm

Looks like they copied a Reaper drone from numerous crashes in Afghanistan. When does there stealth drone come????


torrance November 19, 2013 at 1:57 pm

Has special Turban engine!


Rest Pal November 19, 2013 at 5:01 pm

Congrats to the Iranians. This is an important step toward being able to shoot down US and Israeli drones or spying aircraft in Iranian air space. Hope they are making progress on long range air defense missiles as well.


Todd Butson November 21, 2013 at 7:14 am

Just looking at the pictures and it is clear to see that thing is a piece of junk.. Seams showing everywhere, the tail booms are WAY to thin and other things that are obvious… This so called drone is nothing but a mockup, of that I have no doubt.


spencer November 25, 2013 at 1:15 am

yeah, those seams are HORRENDOUS. no laminar flow = no 30 hours of endurance


Chipp Wood November 22, 2013 at 2:59 pm

What are we talking about? Just wait still is flight…this is just an others propaganda, scare crow or just a RC toy A/C make in China sale by Hobbyking.com…..


Brad Davis November 23, 2013 at 3:40 pm

Can someone tell me who are the new commentators on this website? It seems like poeple who are making anti American comments are the ones who are getting the thumbs up? I just saw a few anti Iranian comments get thumbs down. Can someone tell Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to stay off of social websites!


spencer November 25, 2013 at 1:13 am

hahaha, 30 hours endurance. it doesn't even have a laminar wing! this thing is a joke.


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