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Iranian army acquires combat-capable drones with 1,500km range

Defence minister says the domestically produced drones are equipped with missiles and bombs
The drones include the Ababil 3 surveillance and reconnaissance models (AFP)

The Iranian armed forces acquired on Saturday of three types of bomb-carrying drones with a range of 1,500 kilometres, Defence Minister Amir Hatami said on state television on Saturday.

The drones can monitor "enemy movements from a considerable distance" and are capable of combat missions, he said at the delivery ceremony in Tehran broadcast on TV.

The unmanned aircraft are equipped with bombs and missiles and can fly at an altitude of up to 45,000 feet (13,716 metres), he said.

The units include multi-role unmanned aerial vehicles, Karrar ("strike") jet-powered target drones, and Ababil 3 surveillance and reconnaissance drones, Hatami said.

The drones were built by Iran's domestic defence industry with input from local universities, he said.

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In August 2019, Iran also unveiled three domestically produced "precision-guided smart bombs," which the defence minister said could be installed on various kinds of drones.

Drones are a key element in Iran's border surveillance, especially over the Gulf waters around the Strait of Hormuz, through which one-fifth of the world's oil supply flows.

Tensions between Iran and the United States have reached the highest levels in decades since the United States killed top Iranian General Qassem Soleimani in a drone strike in Baghdad on 3 January, prompting Iran to fire missiles days later at bases in Iraq where US troops are stationed.

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