Iran has reportedly developed a new attack drone called the Shahed-107 for Russia’s war efforts in Ukraine. According to an informed security source, the drone is described as an “explosive and reconnaissance” unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) that may be equipped with technology to target high-value battlefield assets such as British and American multiple-launch rocket systems used by Ukrainian forces. The source suggests that a few units of the Shahed-107 drone may have been offered to Russia in a deal worth over $2 million. This development reflects Iran’s support for Russia’s interests in Ukraine. It is worth noting that Ukraine and its western allies have previously accused Iran of supplying Russia with one-way attack drones known as the Shahed-131 and Shahed-136, also known as “suicide drones.”
Russia has been using a combination of drone and missile strikes to penetrate Ukraine’s air defenses, targeting civilian and military locations across the country. The Shahed-107 drone is a part of the Shahed-101 family of UAVs and features a V-shaped tail. It is approximately 2.5 meters long with a wingspan of three meters and can be launched from a vehicle. The drone is estimated to have a range of up to 1,500km (932 miles) and is equipped with a live-streaming transmitter for video transmission. Its reconnaissance capabilities make it suitable for identifying targets on Ukraine’s frontline for other drones or weapons systems to strike.
The security source claims that Iranian security forces conducted a trial with the Russians at an airbase in central Iran, which included the Shahed-107 and Shahed-136 drones. The defense ministries of Russia and Iran have not yet responded to requests for comment. However, in September, Iran’s president denied any involvement in supplying drones or weapons to Russia for use in Ukraine.
A Ukrainian source expresses concerns about the supply of these drones and states that Russia’s offensive heavily relies on Iranian drones, which they continuously upgrade to increase their speed and force Ukrainian defense forces to utilize more expensive air defense systems. If confirmed, the development of a new drone by Iran would demonstrate its growing military manufacturing capabilities and its importance to Russia’s war efforts. Defense experts warn that the political costs to Iran are significant, as it aligns them with those who seek to violently overthrow the current international system.
There are also reports of Iran’s potential delivery of surface-to-surface ballistic missiles to Russia, which are more lethal and harder to intercept than drones. The informed security source claims that Russia expects to receive precision surface-to-surface missile systems from Iran, including missiles with a range longer than 300km (186 miles). The transfer of Iranian missiles would enable Russia to repeat a campaign of terror launched last winter against Ukraine’s energy infrastructure, leading to extended blackouts across the country. Ballistic missiles are harder to intercept, which would force Ukraine to use more of its limited supply of US-provided Patriot air defense missiles. This situation could potentially cause significant destruction to civilian infrastructure. In return for the missiles, Iran would likely seek cash and military technology from Russia.
The anticipated delivery of missiles suggests that Iran strategically aligns itself with Russia and China, seeing a realignment of world politics taking place. Iran believes that this alignment will help them be on the side that ultimately prevails.