Iran’s latest revenge attack on Syria included not only ballistic missiles, but also armed stealth drones.
The Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) launched an attack on a Syrian location of Ahvaz National Resistance, an Iranian-Arab separatist group, consisting of six missiles and seven unarmed craft carrying munitions – all just three miles from U.S. troops, The Drive reported this week.
Iran believed the Ahvaz National Resistance group to be behind the fatal attack on a Sept. 22 military parade.
The attack was the first in which Iran used drones, which may have been their opportunity to test out the drone in action. The inclusion of drones in the strike indicates that Iran’s stealth drone capabilities have evolved, and their proximity to U.S. troops may mean that forces face the drones as a new combat threat.
The Iranian missiles and drones reportedly struck just three miles from U.S. forces. “The coalition is still assessing if any damage occurred, and no coalition forces were in danger,” said U.S. Army Col. Sean Ryan. The missiles bore messages such as “Death to America” and “Death to Israel.”
Iran’s Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (#IRGC) strikes the gatherings of the ringleaders of the recent terror attack in the southern Iranian city of #Ahvaz, in the east of the Euphrates with several surface-to-surface ballistic missiles. pic.twitter.com/MpuTWDnDeK
— Embajada de R.I. IRAN en ARGENTINA (@embairan) October 1, 2018
The Iranian drones are believed to be copies of the highly classified U.S. RQ-170 Sentinel spy drone. The RQ-170 is thought to be an invulnerable drone designed for high-altitude surveillance operations with the world’s most advanced stealth technologies.
The IRGC Aerospace Division displayed their new Saeqeh drone to the public in 2016, and claimed they had developed the aircraft after shooting down a U.S. drone that flew over Iran in 2011, according to Iranian state-run media outlet, PressTV.
Also in 2016, Commander of the IRGC’s Aerospace Division, Brigadier General Amirali Hajizadeh, claimed that Iran’s aviation capabilities were better than the U.S., and Iran would “continue our course for reinforcing our might for defense against the enemy.”
In Feb. 2018, Israel shot down an Iranian drone, which they said was Iran’s Saeqeh drone, the copy of the U.S. RQ-170. The drone was destroyed in the attack, but experts who reviewed video footage just before the strike concluded that the drone was copied from the U.S. version.
Yuval Steinitz, a minister in Israel’s security cabinet, told Israeli radio, “It was an Iranian copy of a U.S. drone that they got hold of a few years ago and they duplicated,” the Washington Post reported.
Wim Zwijnenburg, coordinator for the European Forum on Armed Drones, said: “It would be a new development if they were flying these around.” He added that the RQ-170 is capable of evading radar due to its materials absorbing radar signals, but it was unclear whether or not Iran was able to replicate that technology.
Iran released footage of this week’s attack on Syria, which appears to show the Saeqeh drone as it drops a bomb from an internal compartment. However, the video has not been verified, and it’s unclear whether the drone in the footage is actually the Saeqeh model.