Aside from the fact that
it’s likely just a paperweight that looks like a drone, if it does indeed fly, Iran’s new
unmanned attack aircraftis unlikely to see any serious combat.
The truth is that attack drones are worthless against Iran’s enemies.
Sophisticated militaries — to include even North Korea — an easily shoot down drones unaccompanied by fighter escort.
As the U.S. Air Force’s chief of Air Combat Command Gen. Mike Hostage explained recently to Foreign Policy:
“Today … I couldn’t put [a Predator or Reaper] into the Strait of Hormuz without having to put aeroplanes there to protect it,” said the four-star general. This week, the Air Force’s chief of staff, Gen. Mark Welsh, revealed that an F-22 — the planet’s most sophisticated stealth fighter — intercepted Iranian F-4 Phantom jets that were closing in on a U.S. Predator drone over the strait last March. In November 2012, Iranian Su-25 ground attack jets fired on, and missed, an American Predator over the strait.
Even spy drones are subject to modern anti-air systems. Washington lost one to Iran that it was only willing to fly near Iranian airspace, in part because crossing air space would justify Iran shooting it down — though there are likely spy satellites and surveillance drones with altitudes that Iran can’t do much of anything about.
Iran could possibly deploy its drone (if it flies) to Northern Syria to fight ill-equipped rebels, but that would be an open admission to supporting the war. Iran’s material support for Assad, though relatively known, is still denied and considered covert (and thus the proverbial elephant in the room).
It could be that Iran created attack drones merely for prestige, notably among the country’s less informed internal audience.
As Ali Akbar Dareini of the Associated Press writes, “Iran frequently makes announcements about strides in military technology, but it is virtually impossible to independently determine the actual capabilities or combat worthiness of the weapons it produces.”
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