Possible New Iranian Types of Drones to Enter Russian Army Service — a Commentary on Rybar’s article.

There is a speculatory post on Rybar’s Telegram channel, celebrating the rumors of possible new types of Iranian drones to be purchased by Russian MoD.

It talks about two types of drones, the long, ~2,000 km range drone with simple valve motor propeller engine, and an Iranian clone of the US-made Switchblade tactical drones.

The article concludes with positives for both sides: for Russian it is the “increase of its combat capabilities”, and for Iran its “ideal proving grounds to combat-test its weaponry against western weapon systems”.

This is an idiotism, of course. First of all, “Russia will increase its combat capabilities” is nonsense. You cannot increase combat capabilities by inducting inferior weapon systems into service. Russia has much more sophisticated nomenclature of “smart” weapons. What it really meant to say, is what Russian depleting arsenal of standoff precision weapons, which wasn’t ever intended to de-electrify entire country as large as Ukraine, will be supplemented by Iranian cheap rip-offs of western weapons. Whis is a consequence of the Russian government letting its military industrial complex (MIC) to die in agony, with exception of some luckier companies like Almaz-Antey. The later one, by the way, was nominated as the least corrupt one in the Russian MIC, which, by the way, gives up a clue why it is still able to produce things and be profitable.

And the second “pro”, is the battle testing of Iranian weaponry using Ukraine as testing grounds. Which is, of course, to say it may not be effective or a good value at all. Like we see with the often usage of the Shakhed-136 drones in shorter range strikes, which could be more effectively done using Russian own developed and made GPS (Glonass) guided 120 km range 330 mm rockets. And those cannot be shot down with AK-47, by the way, as sometimes happen to the Shakhed-136. Instead, it seemed a good idea to pour Russian MoD budget into developing Iranian standoff capabilities. Iran, which is a threshold nuclear state governed by radical Islam movement.

So, let’s examine those state of the art, as Rybar group wants us to believe, drones.

Arash-2 (infographics here) is a 50 hp driven, 185 km/h slow, ~2,000 km range, 200 kg stealthy looking drone with supposedly sophisticated guidance system. If I’m not mistaken, MD550 is the same engine that propels the Shalhed-136. With more fuel onboard it range can be extended from 1,200 to ~2,000 km. So it will be a realatively easy target for Ukrainian air-defence, just like Shahed is. It also has much more costly guidance system onboard. The GPS navigation that Shakhed-136 uses costs pennies in comparison with IR, thermal or radar (passive or active) guidance. Which means it won’t be cheap anymore. And it would be massively inferior to the Russian Kh-101 or Kalibr or Iskander-K cruise missiles in performance. And, considering how standoff weapons have become the only Russian means to gain superiority over Ukraine, Iran won’t sell them for cheap. Even if they will be inferior in any way imaginable, if Russia buys them, it will flow a great deal of its military budget to Iran, advertise their weapon systems and test them for free. I can see the “win” for Iran, but not for Russia.

Meraj-521 (infographics) is an Iranian rip-off of the Switchblade family of suicide drones, which prove themself so ineffective in Ukraine. Considering Iran has no hi-tech industry to speak off, it will use expensive off the shelf components, which will be far inferior to the ones that US has access to. Is there a need to say any more?

In fact, Russia has developed, in some cases decades ago, weapon systems which would dominate the battlefield in Ukraine, not only over the Soviet legacy weaponry, but also the modern western ones. For example, the mighty Smerch long range, large caliber MLR systems has an upgrade that will put its effectiveness on par or above the M142 HIMARS/M270 MLRS. But there are only very few Smerch MLRS in Russian inventory, even if a significant number of them were produced and exported to third countries. The same goes to the only modern effective anti-fortification (conventional) ground weapon system which is TOS-1/2 heavy thermobaric rocket launchers. There are only a small number of them in service, and I believe all or nearly all of them were produced in the USSR. There isn’t yet promised and widely advertised in the past new generation of Koalitsia-SV self-propelled howitzers, that should have dominated the artillery duels against not only old Soviet and US SPH’s, but also modern ones (like German PzH-2000). And the modernized Soviet era Msta-S is still nowhere to be seen. The truly revolutionary infantry support artillery system Vena was abandoned long ago, and the much-simplified self-propelled Nona is also missing the action. Both are universal artillery systems capable of using mortar, gun or howitzer type ammunitions. Including the guiding ones. Yet, what Russians are using are old guns and howitzers which have no netcentric capabilities or even automatic fire control systems.

Instead of speaking of all this, the Russian “patriotic” alternative media is drooling over some Iranian drones. How pathetic is it, really.

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