Photo: Iran Defence
Following the U.S. Navy’s announcement that it’s doubling the number of minesweeping ships in the Strait of Hormuz, Iran announced the production of its new drone the Shaparak (Butterfly).The news comes through PressTV and while Tehran may want to impart the drone’s design comes after capturing the U.S.’s RQ-70 Sentinel drone late last year, this design has been in the works for some time.
FARS reported in September that the Butterfly’s design was created by students at the Modern Technologies Engineering College of Tabriz University with the goal of keeping the craft aloft at great heights, for extended periods of time.
To that end, the new drone will be capable of flying at 15,000 feet for three-and-a-half hours, with an operational radius of about 31 miles.
In addition to its three high-resolution colour cameras, the Butterfly will capable of carrying a 17-pound payload.
While a step forward in its domestic drone program, the Butterfly is not likely to satisfy the operational needs of Iran’s admirals should a conflict flare up in the strait with the U.S.
To that end, Iran’s defence Minister Brigadier General Ahmad Vahidi told PressTV the Islamic Republic will soon unveil a new naval surveillance plane.
Without mentioning details, Vahidi promised the new craft will be capable of “high flight duration, enabling it to keep maritime areas under surveillance via optical and radar subsystems.”
Regardless of any technological insights Iran is able to glean from the captured RQ-70, it has a long way to go to bring its drone program from where it is now, to compete with Western UAVs.
By comparison, the U.S. Navy currently monitors the area with its Broad Area Maritime Surveillance Unmanned Aircraft System, which flies at 357 mph, for up to 30 hours at heights of up to 60,000 feet.
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