Game of drones: Iran buys three pilotless bombers with 932-mile range three months after US airstrike killed General Soleimani in Baghdad
- Iran has acquired three bomb-carrying drones with a range of over 930 miles
- Regime said killer drones can monitor ‘enemy movements’ from great distance
- Aircraft equipped with bombs and missiles and can fly at altitude of 45,000ft
- Drones are key element in Iran’s border surveillance, especially Gulf waters
- The acquisition comes amid heightened tensions between Iran and the US
Iran has acquired three bomb-carrying drones with a range of 932 miles as tensions with the US escalate following the killing of General Soleimani.
Defence Minister Amir Hatami said the killer drones can monitor ‘enemy movements from a considerable distance’ and are capable of combat missions.
Speaking at the delivery ceremony in Tehran, the aircraft were equipped with bombs and missiles, and they can fly at an altitude of up to 45,000ft.
The drones were manufactured by Iran’s military industry with the help of local universities, the defence minister proclaimed on state television.
Drones are a key element in Iran’s border surveillance, especially the Gulf waters around the Strait of Hormuz, through which one-fifth of the world’s oil supply flows.
Iran has acquired three bomb-carrying drones with a range of 932 miles, the regime’s defence minister said on state television yesterday (pictured, Shahed 129 drone)
Defence Minister Amir Hatami (pictured) said the killer drones can monitor ‘enemy movements from a considerable distance’ and are capable of combat missions
The acquisition comes amid heightened tensions between Shiite Iran, Sunni powers, and the US after the killing of Iranian General Qassem Soleimani in January.
General Soleimani, along with Iraqi militia leader Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, was killed in a Washington-directed airstrike outside Baghdad Airport.
The attack led to deteriorating US-Iraq relations and prompted Iraqi lawmakers to call for the withdrawal of US troops in a non-binding resolution.
It has led to a further spate of strikes between US forces and Iran-backed militias.
Relations went south after President Trump withdrew the US from the Iran nuclear deal in 2018, negotiated among big powers in 2015.
Scores of Iranians attend a rally commemorating the 37th anniversary of the Islamic Revolution, under a Shahed-129 Iranian drone (pictured, February 2016)
Iranian Armed Forces members march in a military parade marking the 38th anniversary of Iraq’s 1980 invasion of Iran just outside Tehran (pictured, September 2018)
Nearly a dozen Iranian naval vessels repeatedly harassed and made ‘dangerous’ approaches to American ships conducting operations in the Persian Gulf near Kuwait on Wednesday, in a tense exchange that last more than an hour.
A group of 11 ships with Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps repeatedly crossed the bows and sterns of the U.S. Navy’s Bahrain-based 5th Fleet at close range and high speeds – with one passing within just 32ft of a Coast Guard cutter.
The ‘dangerous and provocative actions increased the risk of miscalculation and collision,’ a statement from US Central Command said, adding that U.S commanders on the scene ‘retain the inherent right to self-defence’.
Iranian officials did not immediately acknowledge the incident, which comes after armed men – also believed to be from Iran’s Revolutionary Guard – seized a Hong Kong-flagged tanker on Tuesday before later releasing the vessel.
The regime seized ships several last summer and the US accuses it of attacking tankers in the region. Last June, an Iranian surface-to-air missile system also shot down a US Navy surveillance drone that was hovering above the region.
Tensions have been exacerbated by the outbreak of the coronavirus, which Iranian officials claim ‘may be the product of an American biological invasion’.
Iran has been hard hit by the disease. It has reported 80,868 confirmed cases of infection and more than 5,000 deaths since the pandemic began.
The regime allowed low-risk businesses – shops, factories, and workshops – to resume operations in Tehran a week after re-opening in the rest of the country.
‘Mosques and religious centres will remain closed for the next two weeks,’ President Rouhani said. ‘Decisions on gatherings during Ramadan will be taken next week.’
Schools and universities remain closed, and a ban on cultural, religious and sports gatherings has been imposed by .
Rouhani said high-risk businesses – including theatres, gyms, saunas, beauty salons, and shopping centres – would remain closed ‘until further notice’.
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