With so many parts coming from the West, mainly the US, the Iranian-made Shahed-136 suicide drone makes for a fantastic mystery product.
The Shahed-136 suicide drone and its Iranian-made predecessor, the Shahed-131, were the subjects of recent research by the British Royal Institute for Strategic Studies (RUSI). British specialists have put a lot of effort into determining how Iran is able to produce such effective and affordable weapons of war despite being subject to severe sanctions.
RUSI claims that Iran may have conducted research and development on the Shahed-131 and Shahed-136 types of suicide drones between 2014 and 2019.
The development of a new generation of drones with triangular wings known as Tufan was reported in the Iranian press as early as 2014. Optoelectronic devices allow this UAV to track targets, although its flying time at 250 km/h is only little more than an hour.
At the time, no one in the outside world paid much attention to what was going on because Iran had long had plans to develop UAVS, but Tehran had made only general advancements that were primarily based on Chinese prototypes. In the period from 2019 to 2022, there have only been two attacks that have been officially reported in which Iran may have utilised the Shahed-131 or Shahed-136 suicide drones.
The first incident occurred in September 2019 when many suicide drones attacked the Aramco oil refinery in Saudi Arabia. Iran, however, denied any involvement and claimed that the aforementioned UAVs were “self-produced” by the Houthis in Yemen.
The following incident happened in July 2019, when an unidentified drone targeted the supertanker Mercer Street as it was en route to Israel.
Even Israeli intelligence, which is well aware of its enemies, waited up to three months to confirm that Iran did, in fact, use kamikaze drones to strike Israel’s tanker. More significantly, the Iranian Armed Forces reportedly deployed the Shahed-136, the most recent suicide drone, for this operation, according to Israeli intelligence.
Shahed-136 has been “officially debuted” by Iran by December 2021 during a military drill in this nation. However, the battle vehicle soon stopped drawing notice. It is evident that the West did not anticipate Iran to be ready to construct this potent assault vehicle in large quantities. Tehran may have “secretly” purchased numerous “dual-use” components for production, it should be highlighted.
At this moment, it appears like nothing can be done to save the West; Washington even had to form a special working committee to look into the Shahed-136 suicide drone’s 82% American component composition.
Furthermore, RUSI claims that rather of using the term “suicide drones,” it would be more acceptable to refer to Iran’s Shahed-131 and Shahed-136 cruise missiles with piston engines. Although it has been noted that the aforementioned UAVs cannot autonomously locate targets on the battlefield, they are capable of destroying a variety of targets at a distance using specified coordinates.