Iran's Islamic Revolution Guard Corps (IRGC) appears to be developing the world's first unmanned ground effect vehicle (UGEV), which could be used as the basis for a long-range munition.
The existence of a UGEV was revealed by a report published by the Tasnim news agency on 26 October, but removed from its website a few hours later.
The report described it as a "combat-reconnaissance drone" that had been developed by the IRGC's naval wing and can carry military night vision systems that work in high humidity environments.
The drone has a range of 1,000 km, can fly as low as 50 cm above the sea, can reach a maximum altitude of 3,000 ft, and has a maximum speed of 200 km/h, the Tasnim report said. "Although the drone cannot carry missiles, it is able to carry explosives and hit sea or ground targets," it added.
The report was accompanied by photographs showing a UGEV powered by two small piston engines with forward-facing propellers.
GEVs exploit the aerodynamic interaction between their wings and the surface- typically the sea - to fly lower and more efficiently than conventional aircraft, while achieving far higher speeds than boats. Some types can also operate outside ground effect like conventional aircraft.
Iran already has experience in developing GEVs, having unveiled the Bavar-2, which comes in single- and two-seat variants, in 2010. A larger two-engine GEV has been seen in satellite imagery of the Iran Shipbuilding and Offshore Industries Complex (ISOIC) shipyard near Bostanu on 6 October 2014.
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