Ukraine's "Bayraktar" compared to Russia's new Iran-supplied dronesBy Andrew Stanton On 8/29/22 at 11:18 AM
Iran sent Russia hundreds of drones, defying U.S. warnings, as the Ukraine war continues, U.S. intelligence said last week.
Russian President Vladimir Putin launched the invasion of Ukraine on February 24 and quickly received criticism from many world leaders who raised concerns about a lack of justification and potential war crimes committed by his troops. In an effort to boost Ukraine's defense efforts, its allies, including the United States, have sent powerful weapons that have helped hold Russian forces to the eastern part of the country.
U.S. intelligence told the Associated Press about the Iranian drones last week, adding they were unsure if Russia has been using the drones but that they are capable of being used for the war.
The alleged drone delivery indicates that Russia and Iran are building closer ties as Putin finds himself a pariah among his European counterparts. But it will also add pressure to already-tense relations between the U.S. and Iran. It comes just months after Turkish weapons manufacturer Baykar delivered armed drones to Ukraine.
Here is how Russia's new Iranian-supplied drones stack up against Ukraine's Bayraktar TB2.
While it is not known exactly which drones Iran provided Russia, CNN reported this month that Tehran showcased two models of drones—Shahed-129 and Shahed-191—to Russia in June.
Iran has touted the Shahed-129 as one of their most powerful drones, so if they were sent to Russia, as experts have said, it could boost Russia's military operation. Some experts believe the drone was reverse-engineered based on a U.S.-made Predator drone that crashed in Iran, according to the Washington Post.
Iranian Drones May Have Longer Range, Higher PayloadThe Shahed-129 is able to travel significantly farther than the Bayraktar TB2. Baykar touts a communication range of about 300 km—or roughly 186 miles—for its drone. Meanwhile, Iran's Shahed-129 has a range of 2,000 km—or about 1,242 miles, according to a report from the Washington Institute.
The Shahed-129 is also able to carry a heavier payload of about 882 pounds, according to the Washington Institute. Baykar said the Bayraktar TB2 is capable of carrying only about 331 pounds.
Another drone Iran might supply Russia is the Ababil-3, which as a range of about 250 km (155 miles), according to the Washington Institute. It can stay airborne for only about eight hours. It could also provide Russia with other drones such as the Mohajer-6 or Shahed-123, according to the Washington Institute.
Turkish Drones Have High Speeds, Better EnduranceWhile Iranian drones have long range and high payload, the drones supplied from Turkey to Ukraine have their own advantages. The Bayraktar drone is able to travel faster than the Shahed-129. The Bayraktar's maximum speeds are about 138 mph, while the Shahed-129 maxes out at about 93 mph, according to military site ArmedForces.eu.
The Turkish drones have a longer endurance, meaning they are able to travel for a greater amount of time. Baykar said its drone is capable of traveling for up to 27 hours, while the Shahed-129 can travel for only 24 hours, according to the Washington Institute.
The Bayraktar TB2 is capable of traveling slightly higher, reaching a maximum altitude of about 25,000 feet, Baydar said. The Shahed-129 has a service ceiling of roughly 23,950 feet, according to ArmedForces.eu.
The Ababil-3 can travel at about 121 mph and has a ceiling of roughly 16,404 feet, according to Military Factory.
Ukraine Receives More Foreign AidWhile Iran might be supplying Russia with potentially powerful drones, Ukraine has also received new military aid in recent weeks. On Saturday, the United Kingdom's defense ministry announced plans to supply Ukraine with six underwater drones to help remove mines along their coastline earlier in the war, Reuters reported.
U.S. Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition William LaPlante said over the weekend that the U.S. plans to ramp up the production of M142 High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems (HIMARS), a powerful weapon that has been attributed to boosting Ukraine's military in recent months.
Newsweek reached out to the Russian Defense Ministry and Ukrainian Foreign Ministry for comment.
U.S. intelligence officials said last week that Iran might be giving Russia new drones as the U.S. and U.K. continue providing Ukraine military aid.
And here are additional important facts about the Turkish drone:
Turkey is changing the face of modern warfare with its TB2 drone. As the weapon spreads across the globe, some U.S. lawmakers seek to crack down on the country, saying it’s exploiting its NATO status to obtain key parts from Western manufacturers.
Members of Congress are calling for an investigation into how U.S. technology ended up in Turkey’s TB2 drone, which has fast become a favorite of embattled nations. “We need a full accounting,” said one lawmaker.