Iran Unveils Its Biggest Drone Yet

Iran says it has built its biggest type of drone yet, an unmanned plane that it claims could fly to Israel and other countries in the Middle East.

The remote-controlled aircraft, known as Fotros and designed for surveillance or strike missions, was displayed during a ceremony Monday at the Iranian Armed Forces Aviation Industries Organization in Tehran, according to the state-run Press TV news organization.

The actual size of the drone wasn’t reported. But the aircraft supposedly has an operational radius of as much as 2,000 kilometers (about 1,250 miles), a service ceiling of up to 25,000 feet and an endurance of up to 30 hours, according to the article, which cited Iranian Defense Minister Brig. Gen. Hossein Dehqan. He touted its ability to carry munitions such as air-to-surface missiles, as well as its reconnaissance applications.

“The protection of maritime and land borders, monitoring of oil pipelines and telecommunications lines, road traffic control, the surveillance of areas struck by earthquakes, blazes and floods, environmental monitoring for the sake of environment protection, and the transmission of precise images and films throughout the mission are among the capabilities of the Fotros drone,” Dehqan said, according to the report.

It’s at least the fourth drone developed by the Islamic Republic of Iran, though like the country’s other military technology, the aircraft’s performance and quality remain in question.

Iran in 2010 unveiled the long-range Karrar drone, which reportedly has an operational radius of 1,000 kilometers (about 620 miles) and the capacity to carry two 115-kilogram bombs or a precision-guided munition weighing 227 kilograms, according to the article.

In 2012, it followed up with its first medium-altitude unmanned aircraft, known as the Shahed-129, to fly combat or surveillance missions lasting as long as a day, the news organization reported.

And earlier this year, the country’s ground forces unveiled a low-altitude drone, Yasir, which can supposedly fly as high as 15,000 feet for as long as eight hours and as far as 200 kilometers (about 125 miles), according to the article.

Israel has robust air defenses designed to deal with a range of threats, presumably including those the size of Iran’s new Fotros drone.

About the Author

Brendan McGarry
Brendan McGarry is the managing editor of Military.com. He can be reached at brendan.mcgarry@military.com. Follow him on Twitter at @Brendan_McGarry.
  • http://twitter.com/AValencia_Alfa @AValencia_Alfa

    Look this image by Roberto_Yeager (www.ejercitos.org)
    https://imagizer.imageshack.us/v2/880x587q90/23/y…

    manufactured excelent…. :-)))

    • https://www.facebook.com/ReverendClint Clint Notestine

      cardboard is always hard to fit together

      • Kiumars

        You are right; wings are too short, tail is too long, nose is too big, it is made of cardboard; etc, etc, but watch this video to see how it flies! watch?v=UCOTeggoXrU

      • scott

        this is funny i cant keep a straight face

    • JCross

      Although this is clearly not actually a usable drone, this may be a mockup of a real design. Sometimes the Iranians actually produce what they show off. Sometimes.

    • Vaughn

      Come-on folks, they didn’t just get off a camel. I spent 2+ years in Iran, 1+ in Bushehr on the Persian Gulf when they updated from F-5A/Bs to E/Fs. Then 1+ year’s in Teheran at Iran Aircraft Industries where we (Americans) trained and supported there aviation efforts, also don’t forget that Bell Helicopter built a plant also in Iran. They are still flying F-4/5s probably P-3s, C-130s and don’t forget F-14s if I remember it was just a few years ago that they flew in an air show, let alone the aircraft they inherited from Iraq and purchased since then. While I was in Teheran they reversed engineered a Check. Glider and built two that flew and that was back I 1975/6.
      With more $$ than sense you can do anything, and also since they are hard line Islamist’s they can tell us infidels anything that the want and expect us to believe………

  • Chuck

    How exactly do they plan on communicating with the drone over-the-horizon? It’s got a hump for the satellite dish. Will Iran use its extensive satellite communications network for command-and-control?

    • https://www.facebook.com/ReverendClint Clint Notestine

      maybe a mother ship of sorts?

    • Kiumars

      Controlling the drone does not need satellites; one or two radio relay stations in Lebanon; Syria or Iraq is more than enough

      • NathanS
    • Hunter76

      The Heron, upon which this is based, can fly autonomously. That is to say you give it a mission, it flies whatever route based on GPS, conducts its mission, flies back home and lands.

  • https://www.facebook.com/charles.j.haas Charles James Haas

    Seems like the wings are not very wide also (front to back). Hard to imagine they would provide the needed lift and stability. The wings certainly would preclude deploying any weapons on it. The cameral ball seems very small also. Might fit one camera in it, but not much else. So, even if it could go to Israel, they would just soot it down with great ease. There is no threat here.

  • https://www.facebook.com/charles.j.haas Charles James Haas

    Oh, just because they show some type of missile on it doesn’t mean it would actually be capable of flying with it.

  • hibeam

    The Iranians would establish air supremacy over Israel. They would then use their drones to attack targets of opportunity. Finally the Quds force would sweep in on flying carpets to secure Tel Aviv.

    • Rest Pal

      Iran should consider buying China’s J-31 (the recently developed stealth fighter jet for export) and the low cost light fighter jet JF-17. Iran can pay for the jets with oil.

      • Scar2

        Knowing China ,who says they are not already :-)!

  • PolicyWonk

    I see the model shop in Iran is staying busy. Its nice to know someone in that nation has steady employment (besides the mullahs).

    • Brad Davis

      Ha ha !

  • Auyong Ah Meng

    Looks plastic or spastic to me for some strange reason…zzz

  • rtsy

    The commentators on this site are a little ridiculous.
    Everyone drools over the drone tech from the US but when Iran starts to catch up it’s all a joke. Iran will no doubt use this tech within it’s own borders to continue oppressing it’s own people.
    Drone tech is a legitimate capability for just about any nation willing to spend the time on it nowadays. Accept it and stop denying reality.

    • Sev

      Nothing to drool over badly glued together pieces of cardboard. Reminds me of their “Stealth” fighter jet that looks about the same size as those little quarter operated plane rides in the mall.

  • Zspoiler

    Look maw more targets

  • Brian Black
  • Beno

    This is from the nation that “landed” an RQ170 stealth drone. Something they shouldnt have been even able to see. never mind touch.
    Underestimating other nations inginuity can cost the US in more than dollars.
    Compared to that act, ( and the tech they aquired within an RQ170), makes that lump look quite do-able.
    We (NATO, as im British) need to be less complacent.

  • Harry Canyon

    Looks almost exactly like an Israeli Heron.

  • Hunter76

    1) The craft shown in pic could be a mockup.

    2) That notwithstanding, clearly it’s something. There are videos showing it taking off and landing. (eg, see video1 in Fotros at Wikipedia.) No telling it’s capabilities, though- it could just be an remote-controlled model.

    3) Canyon is right, it’s a copy of the Heron- right down to the claimed payload.

    4) The experts here who say the wings are too short, the nose too big, etc, are clearly talking through their hats.

  • Dfens

    We have bigger drones. Almost all of our defense contractors have plenty of drones bigger than that. Our military too, for that matter.

  • scott

    it looks like a predator but with a double tail beam and fin

  • Big-B

    Its a HERON copy… just google :-)

    At least the iran “experts” are improving their mockups, remember their “stealth fighter” and the video on youtube? Or the photoshop missiles? Compared to theses jokes this Heron copy looks a lot better although i doubt it will be flyable within the next decade. And who needs GPS guidance when you have little monkey astronauts who are surely qualified to fly this Heron copy :-D

  • Kuzinov

    Yes, Iranians are totally stupid and incapable of building anything. I totally didn’t share a public bus every morning with a bunch of Iranian engineering students attending South Eastern Massachusetts University which is a great school for engineering. While posters spout how they’re just camel riding idiots, I wonder where those guys are now.

    • Big-B

      if they are smart they are not in Iran after the university ;-)

      I know some guys from Iran myself, but they call themself persians, calling them iran is an insult for them. They are as smart as every other people with proper education and they dislike the iran gov. (they fled from iran in 1979)

      Imagine a new pro-western gov in iran: millions of customers for all the stuff nobody needs and tons of oil. Iran could be more prosperous than Saudi Arabia. But their gov is not that smart…yet?

      • blight_

        Not every Iranian living in the states distances themselves from their homeland so aggressively by calling themselves “Persian”. It’s probable many in the older generation might. That said, the opportunities back home are somewhat more limited.

      • Kuzinov

        You also need to take into account it was the earlier 80s, these guys were patriotic to their home country. Americans have a bad habit of forgetting why the Iranian Revolution took place to begin with, and I’m sure many Iranians looked at it as a step up from the Shah.

        Still, my point is that Iran has plenty of smart, technical types around and I find it foolish to automatically assume they can’t accomplish building things or back-engineer them(actually harder to do than making something new sometimes).

  • Lance

    Looks like they copied a Reaper drone from numerous crashes in Afghanistan. When does there stealth drone come????

  • torrance

    Has special Turban engine!

  • Rest Pal

    Congrats to the Iranians. This is an important step toward being able to shoot down US and Israeli drones or spying aircraft in Iranian air space. Hope they are making progress on long range air defense missiles as well.

  • https://www.facebook.com/MalakieUSN Todd Butson

    Just looking at the pictures and it is clear to see that thing is a piece of junk.. Seams showing everywhere, the tail booms are WAY to thin and other things that are obvious… This so called drone is nothing but a mockup, of that I have no doubt.

    • spencer

      yeah, those seams are HORRENDOUS. no laminar flow = no 30 hours of endurance

  • Chipp Wood

    What are we talking about? Just wait still is flight…this is just an others propaganda, scare crow or just a RC toy A/C make in China sale by Hobbyking.com…..

  • Brad Davis

    Can someone tell me who are the new commentators on this website? It seems like poeple who are making anti American comments are the ones who are getting the thumbs up? I just saw a few anti Iranian comments get thumbs down. Can someone tell Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to stay off of social websites!

  • spencer

    hahaha, 30 hours endurance. it doesn’t even have a laminar wing! this thing is a joke.

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