Iran Has Helped Hugo Chavez Build Venezuela's First Drone

Venezuala DroneVenezuela’s new drone

Photo: Screen grab via PressTV

It may not result in the massive U.S. Global Hawk, or a deadly Reaper, but Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez says his country is on the road to a drone program of its own.The AFP reports that during a meeting with senior military leaders Wednesday, Chavez said, “It is one of the three planes that we have manufactured here, and we are continuing to make them… not just for military use, (as) much of its equipment is for civilian use.”

Chavez went on to say the drone

Butterfly Drone IranIran’s Butterfly drone

Photo: Iran Defence

was built jointly among Venezuela’s allies Russia, China, and Iran, while another official flatly stated the drone was assembled locally and built by engineers trained in Iran.The 13-foot-long aircraft has a 10-foot wingspan and will fly at up to 9,000-feet within a 60 mile range — it is not equipped to carry weapons.

Iran’s state run media outlet PressTV was quick to make the announcement, as well and implies Chavez certainly couldn’t have built the craft without its help.

Iran’s drone program is pretty new as well, FARS reported in September that Tehran’s new drone, the Butterfly, was designed 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.

It’s not unlikely that Tehran would like to keep a better eye on the U.S. Navy’s Fifth Fleet, currently stationed in Bahrain and patrolling the Strait of Hormuz.

To that end, the butterfly  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.

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.

Now take a look at Syria’s imposing arsenal of weapons >

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