188 domestically-made combat unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) and helicopters entered service with the naval fleet of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) on Wednesday.
Speaking at a ceremony in the city of Bandar Abbas, IRGC Navy Commander Rear Admiral Alireza Tangsiri said that three models of drones, vertically-launched Sepeher, Shahab-2 and Hodhod-4, had been unveiled for the first time and would be used for reconnaissance missions.
According to him, also joining the IRGC’s naval fleet is a number of domestically-produced Mohajer drones, which feature high-altitude flight endurance and the ability to operate at great distances.
“With the drones having joined [the naval fleet], all missions of the IRGC navy will be covered by indigenous Iranian drones”, Tangsiri pointed out.
He also claimed that IRGC drones tracked the US aircraft carrier Nimitz before the vessel cruised through the Strait of Hormuz to enter the Persian Gulf last week.
He singled out the Iranian-made fighter jet Kowsar, which is already in service with the country's Air Force and which the Iranian commander said can be seen as an example of the IRIAF’s progress.
In July 2019, the Iran Army Ground Forces received its first batch of Mohajer-6 drones, which had previously been used only by the IRGC.
Brigade General Shahram Hassannejad, head of the Ground Forces' drone unit, said at the time that “with the deployment of these unmanned aerial vehicles, any threat to the Iranian borders and even beyond the borders, will be identified, tracked down and removed before it could even take form”.
The drones entering service with the Iranian military comes amid growing tensions between Tehran and Washington, which escalated after top Iranian General Qasem Soleimani was assassinated in a US drone strike in Baghdad on 3 January, which was authorised by President Donald Trump.
The tensions have persisted since POTUS announced Washington’s unilateral withdrawal from the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, or the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), in May 2018, also reinstating harsh economic sanctions against the Islamic Republic.