Shahed drone, symbol of Iranian creativity in reverse engineering RQ-170 drone

Tehran (IP) - One of the most important ways to achieve advanced military and defense technology is the reverse engineering of modern and successful equipment and weapons.

Iran Press/Iran news: This opportunity in the field of drones was provided in 2011 to the air force of the Islamic Revolution Guard Corps (IRGC) in an unprecedented way. Before that, however, the IRGC had succeeded in reverse engineering some American drones.

American RQ-170 landed by IRGC

On December 4, 2011, an American advanced RQ-170 drone was landed by the Islamic Revolution Guard Corps Air Force after entering the country's space. Thus, Iran gained access to one of the most secret equipment of the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), the advanced RQ 170 Sentinel drone known as the "Kandahar Beast".

The commander of the IRGC Air Force announced after the complete reopening of the drone's data storage devices that its reverse engineering project was underway. This issue was questioned by Western military experts. They did not expect Iran to have reverse engineering capabilities to build prototypes of the drone. But despite the surprise and even denial of the Americans, now, 9 years after the landing of the RQ-170, all kinds of Iranian versions have been produced and put into operation.

Types of "Shahed" drones

Shahed 141 and 161

According to new information that was recently published in a short clip of the Shahed drones made from RQ-170 in Iran, at least 6 types of Shahed drones have been built based on RQ-170.

The IRGC Air Force initially built a 15 percent prototype of the RQ-170 for research and development purposes, in order to obtain the construction and details and wiring of it.

After that, in 2014, the construction of a 40% prototype of this drone, named Shahed 141 and 161, was on the agenda of the IRGC Air Force. The difference between Shahed 141 and 161 drones is that Shahed 161 uses a jet engine and Shahed 141 uses a piston engine.

Shahed 161 drones with combat surveillance missions and a maximum range of 500 km can fly up to 25,000 feet. The maximum speed of this drone is 275 km/h and its take-off weight is 170 kg and can carry up to 2 Sadid smart bombs weighing 50 kg.

The IRGC used these two drones, which were built in 2014, in the first place to complete knowledge and mastery of technology in the field of flight dynamics and aircraft configuration, and then prepared them for air surveillance and reconnaissance missions as well as combat operations.

Obviously, the model is a cheap, low-cost piston engine, and given the advantages of the wing design, it actually established a new generation of drones in the IRGC Air Force.

Shahed 181 and 191

After that, in 2015, it was time to build a 60% prototype of this UAV called Shahed 181 and Shahed 191. Shahed 191 drone uses a jet engine and Shahed 181 uses a piston engine.

Shahed 191 with a triple reconnaissance, combat, and surveillance mission with a maximum range of 1,500 km and a flight duration of 4.5 hours. The drone is capable of flying at an altitude of 25,000 feet at a speed of 350 kilometres per hour. The maximum take-off weight of this drone is 500 kg.

In combat missions, these drones can carry up to 100 kg of cargo. This model is equipped with an internal housing that allows it to carry 2 bombs. This prevents the increase in radar reflection that occurs when carrying a weapon outside the body.

A number of these drones were used simultaneously in combat operations against ISIS in eastern Syria in October 2016. This attack registered Iran as the holder of knowledge and technology of group drone operations (Swarm) and the first user of this combat method in the world.

Shahed 171 or Simorgh

RQ-170 final sample was made in 2016 under the name of Shahed 171 or Simorgh. The final range of this drone is 4400 km. The drone uses a turbofan engine and with a reconnaissance and surveillance mission is able to reach an altitude of 36,000 feet and fly continuously for 10 hours. Its maximum take-off weight is 3070 kg and its speed is 460 km/h.

This is the first time that a turbofan engine is used in Iranian drones, which represents Iran's entry into the design and construction of a new generation of jet engines.

Shahed 171 can be considered the most significant Iranian drone: In terms of final range, this drone is equal to the Shahed 129 and Fotros and has a very large range. The operating radius of this drone is 2200 km, which means that it can operate for tens of minutes on this range.

Also, Shahed 171 drone is probably the heaviest drone made in Iran. Thus, it seems that the Shahed 171 has the capacity to be used as a platform for the development of a combat drone due to its appropriate body size, although it currently performs reconnaissance missions.

Another issue is that Shahed 171 is the first Iranian drone to have a turbofan engine. Of course, considering that the native turbofan engine of Jahesh-700 was produced in 2020, but the year of Shahed 171 construction was three years ago, the IRGC probably used another turbofan engine in it.

Another issue is the high altitude of this drone, which is currently more than most Iranian drones. In fact, except for the Karrar drone, which has a flight altitude of 4,000 feet, which is about 11 percent more than Shahed 171, other Iranian drones are capable of flying at a lower final altitude.

Another point is the flight duration of Shahed 171, which by far has the highest flight duration among drones with Iranian jet engines. Simorgh drone is in third place in terms of flight speed, after Karrar and Kian drones.

Shahed 171 has very little radar reflection due to both the material used in the fuselage and the shape of the fuselage, which, like the American B-2 Sprite stealth bomber, lacks surfaces with right angles, and is in the category of drones. Radar concealer is placed. This feature enables Shahed 171 to be successful in reconnaissance missions deep in enemy territory.

Today, the drone is even used in civilian missions, such as cloud seeding, and Iran has now become the second-largest drone manufacturer and operator in the world.


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