CIA’s RQ-170 UAV could usher in a new series of Russian drones

At the beginning of this year, we published information from a source that Russia and Iran intend to build a factory for the production of drones in Russia. Russia denied it, as did Iran. But our sources in Russia have confirmed that land has already been bought in the city of Yelabuga, Republic of Tatarstan.

CIA's RQ-170 UAV could usher in a new series of Russian drones Shahed 191
Photo credit: UASVision

According to another source, the factory will be in close proximity to Moscow. The source cited a White House intelligence report. US intelligence says the factory will be built in the Alabuga Economic Zone near Moscow. Washington revealed that satellite images confirmed the Americans’ fears.

Since the beginning of the war, Washington has tried to cut off some routes for the delivery of weapons or components from Tehran to Moscow. Such roads are, for example, the Caspian Sea or the port of Bandar Anzali.

According to the experts

According to Russian military planners, a new factory in Russia will help the Russian fighter jet achieve much-desired air superiority. Because at the moment, only the Ukrainian air defense is preventing this from happening.

CIA's RQ-170 UAV could usher in a new series of Russian drones - Shahed-191
Photo credit:

In this regard, experts suggest that the Iranian Shahed Saegheh drone will be the subject of development at the new Russian-Iranian plant. Of course, this information is a guess and cannot be confirmed. But it makes sense that it is this drone, since the Iranians based its development on the American drone produced by Lockheed Martin for the CIA – the RQ-170 Sentinel.

Shahed Saegheh

Shahed 191 [Saegheh-2] is a possible Russian-made object. Apart from reconnaissance, this drone is also used as an attack platform. According to Iranian media reports, the drone is 60% of the actual size of the original RQ-170 Sentinel. It can stay in the air for just over 4.5 hours. It has a cruising speed of 300 km/h, travels at least 450 km and carries a payload of 50 kg.

The Iranians armed it with two Sadid-1 TV-guided anti-tank missiles. Some experts say that this missile is a copy of Israel’s fire-and-forget Spike-ER due to its similar design. Iran has not disclosed the missile’s specifications. It is supposed to be able to fly up to 4 km in a short time. The rocket is also assumed to be 140 cm long.

9M133 Kornet russian missile
Photo credit: Asia_Plus

If Russia sticks to the Shahed 191 armament, it is most logical to use its own missile of the same class and category. This is the 9M133 Kornet. This is a completely Russian missile that entered service in 1998. The Kornet-EM version, which is supposed to be the most suitable, has a range of 8,000 meters. Its warhead is 4.6 kg [10 lb] HEAT, detonated by an impact fuze.

Shahed 191 vs S-70 Okhotnik

It is this duel, but not in the air, that is the question mark that Russia and Iran will have to solve. The S-70 Okhotnik is a very good stealth drone, according to information in the Russian media. It beats Shahed 191 in every single feature.

S-70 Okhotnik will fly in the perfect vacuum beyond Earth - Russia
Photo credit: TASS

However, Russia has no use throwing an expensive stealth drone that hasn’t even entered mass production yet. Iranian proposals are cheap and can be more easily “spent” on the battlefield without having a significant impact on Russia’s budget.

According to intelligence from the White House, Iran wants the Shahed 191 to be manufactured in Russia. One of the reasons is that Iran has already developed this series of stealth attack drones, and it would be much easier for Russia to start producing them.

How will Russia use the new drones?

As already mentioned above, Ukrainian air defense is the reason why Russia cannot establish superiority in the skies over Ukraine. Sending expensive fighter jets to drop aerial bombs is always risky. This will become even more difficult if Ukraine receives the F-16 fighter jets promised by the US.

Shahed 191 are very suitable for entering the rear of Ukraine. First, these drones are made of highly composite materials. This makes them difficult to intercept, but not impossible.

Densest missile network of S-300/Buk is about to be blocked
Photo credit: MWM

The Shahed 191 along with a swarm of kamikaze drones such as the Shahed 136 Geranium are suitable for attacking Ukrainian S-300 and Buk air defense systems. In such a scenario, the Ukrainians would have to decide whether to turn on their air defense systems, meaning a certain attack, or keep them off and have the Russians direct drones at key infrastructure, for example.

The RQ-170 was the beginning

CIA's RQ-170 UAV could usher in a new series of Russian drones
Photo credit: Reddit

It could be said that the RQ-170 was the pinnacle of Iran’s drone revolution. Until then, Iran had an embargo and could not rely on imported high-quality components. But the capture of the RQ-170 revealed the production technology and helped Iran to bet on less technological drones, but in huge quantities.

The drone was shot down by Iran in 2011, on December 4th. Iran claims an Iranian electronic warfare system downed the drone. The US says the drone crashed due to a technical problem at the border with Iran. However, the US admitted that the drone belonged to the CIA.

Washington made a demand [request] to Tehran to return the drone to the US. Iran refused and announced that in addition to Iran, Russia and China would also gain access to American technology.


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