Air Platforms

Iranian UAV shown striking targets in Syria and Iraq

05 February 2016
A screenshot from an Iranian TV news programme showing an armed Shahed-129 UAV being demonstrated to the country's media. Source: SimaNews / YouTube

Iran appears to have conducted strike missions over Syria and Iraq using its Shahed-129 unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV), according to footage released by national media on 2 February.

A news report filed by media channel SimaNews shows at least two armed Shahed-129 UAVs being demonstrated at an undisclosed airfield, presumably in Iran, as well as electro-optical/infrared (EO/IR) imagery taken from the UAV's weapon systems purportedly showing them striking vehicles and other targets in Syria and on Iran's 'western borders'. At least some of the strike footage is from October 2015, as shown by a date stamp on the weapon system EO/IR imagery, while latitude and longitude co-ordinates also shown correspond to Aleppo province, Syria.

Both UAVs are shown in the report equipped with twin underwing hardpoints. They appear to be carrying Sadid-1 tube-launched air-to-surface missiles that have been modified into glide bombs specifically for use on the Shahed-129, given that they are not stowed on the launch rails that would normally be used for missiles. At least two seekers types are present, most likely imaging infrared (IIR) and charge-coupled device television (CCDTV). The Sadid-1 shares features that are common to US BGM-71 TOW, Denel Dynamics Ingwe, China North Industries Corporation (NORINCO) HJ-12 (Red Arrow 12), and Rafael Spike LR.

A screenshot showing what appears to be the terminal phase an attack by the Shahed-129 on a vehicle in either Syria or Iraq. (SimaNews / YouTube)A screenshot showing what appears to be the terminal phase an attack by the Shahed-129 on a vehicle in either Syria or Iraq. (SimaNews / YouTube)

IHS Jane's reported in April 2014 that the Shahed-129 was believed to be operating over the Syrian capital of Damascus, following the publication of images of a UAV flying over the city that had a very similar V-tail and straight-wing configuration as the Iranian aircraft. At that time, the UAV was believed to be conducting surveillance mission and was not seen to be armed.

First revealed by the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) in September 2012, the single-engined propeller-driven Shahed-129 is billed as being Iran's most sophisticated UAV, with an endurance of 24 hours and a range of 2,000 km.

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