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Hacked documents shed light on Iranian UAVs offered to Russia

A Shahed-238 is launched from the roof of a vehicle in a still from a documentary aired on Iranian television in 2023. (Islamic Republic News Agency)

A series of documents released by an Iranian hacking network have seemingly revealed new variants and specifications for Iranian one-way-attack (OWA) unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs).

The Prana Network released the documents on 4 February, saying it obtained them from a company set up as a front for Iran's Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) to sell UAVs to Russia and transfer the technology to build them locally.

The documents included brochures for the Alabuga Industrial Park near Yelabuga in the Russian Republic of Tatarstan, which the US government identified in June 2023 as the location of a factory established to produce Iranian UAVs.

Another document from the Iranian company's Russian partner provides a step-by-step guide to producing a UAV airframe, with the accompanying photographs clearly showing Shahed-136s being made, probably by Russian trainees in Iran. Like other documents in the cache, this uses the Russian word for boat as a codeword for UAV.

A Russian-language document gave an overview of the UAVs on offer, showing one that looked like a Shahed-136 with an electro-optic (EO) seeker, a version that has not been seen clearly in Iran.

Identified in the document as the MS 236, this type has a range of 2,000 km, less than the 2,500 km often attributed to the Shahed-136, when carrying a 50 kg warhead. While official performance specifications have never been released for the Shahed-136, the MS 236 was stated to have a maximum take-off weight of 250 kg, a cruise speed of 170 km/h, an endurance of 12 hours, and a maximum altitude of 4,500 m.

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