Ilan Ben Zion – Times of Israel Oct 17, 2012
Nearly two weeks after Israel shot down what is widely thought to be an Iranian-made drone over its airspace, Tehran on Wednesday announced the development of medium- and long-range drones capable of making the journey to Israel.
Manouchehr Manteqi, the managing director of the Iranian Aviation Industries Organization, told Fars News that Tehran has “a series of designs and achievements” for drones with ranges as great as 2,000 kilometers.
The long-range drones would be unveiled within two or three years, he told the semi-official Iranian news agency.
At their closest point, Israel and Iran are just shy of 1,000 kilometers apart.
The Iranian military currently employs 15 different types of drones for intelligence, attack, and aerial defense roles. Earlier this month the head of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards’ aerospace division, Gen. Amir Ali Hajizadeh, claimed that the Iranian armed forces had already developed a UAV that can fly 2,000 kilometers and can carry “bombs and missiles.”
Manteqi told the paper that “class two” and “class three” drones that Iran was developing were capable of flying at 30,000 feet for 15 hours and 50,000 feet for 24 hours, respectively. He gave no indication of what role — intelligence or attack — the drones would have, or what size payload the UAVs would be able to carry.
The American Global Hawk UAV, by comparison, has an operational range of 14,000 kilometers and a flight time of 28 hours, according to the US Air Force. The Israeli Aerospace Industries Eitan has a range in excess of 7,400 kilometers and an estimated flight time of 70 hours.
Israeli UAV expert Tal Inbar told The Times of Israel last week that Iran is at least 20 years behind the cutting edge of drone technology.