Iran shows off its UAV that can carry 13 guided bombs

Iran, for the first time, displayed a Gaza UAV model capable of carrying 13 guided bombs and flying more than 2,000 km, enough to reach Israel.

Iran displayed a new generation unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) model at the international arms exhibition that recently took place in Doha, Qatar, as reported by the Wall Street Journal last weekend.

This UAV was named “Gaza” to show solidarity with the Palestinian people in the strip of land of the same name, an area that has been mired in fighting for many years, especially after Israel launched an offensive campaign here in the past. By the end of October 2023, to eliminate the armed group Hamas.

Iran said the Gaza UAV, also known as Shahed-149, has a wingspan of more than 20 meters and is equipped with a turboprop engine and a satellite navigation system. This is the first time Iran has displayed a Gaza UAV abroad.

UAVs can reach an altitude of more than 10,000 meters, a range of more than 2,000 km, enough to fly from Iran to Israel, a country rivaling Tehran in the region. The highlight of the Gaza UAV is its ability to carry up to 13 highly accurate guided bombs, three times more than its predecessor, the Shahed-129.

The Gaza UAV has the same size, shape and function as the US MQ-9 Reaper line and is said to be a reverse-engineered copy of this UAV line. Proxy forces in the “resistance axis” against Israel and the West established by Iran have repeatedly shot down the MQ-9 Reaper and most likely transferred the UAV’s body to Tehran for research.

MQ-9 Reaper is an armed UAV manufactured by the US General Atomics corporation for the country’s air force, with a factory price of about 30 million USD. The MQ-9 has a maximum payload of 1.7 tons, with weapons including AGM-114 Hellfire surface-to-air missiles, GBU-12 laser-guided bombs or GBU-38 satellite guidance.

Mark Brinkley, spokesman for arms group General Atomics, said Iran’s Gaza line only has a weapons load equal to one-third of their products. “There are many imitation versions, but no product can be completely copied,” he said.

Tehran is a major arms supplier in the world and has transferred many weapons to allies and proxy forces over the years, but is only allowed to sell armed drones and ballistic missiles on the international market from October 2023, when the United Nations 13-year ban on Iran’s import and export of these products expire.

Iranian media late last year announced the Shahed-238 UAV, a deeply upgraded version of the Shahed-136 series, a suicide UAV model commonly used by Russia on the Ukrainian battlefield.

Tehran has not announced detailed technical characteristics of the Shahed-238, but analysts believe that this UAV will have a greater speed and flight ceiling than the Shahed-136 version thanks to being equipped with a jet engine.