Iranian exercise with over 50 stealth UAV/UCAVs

An exercise with massive use of domestically produced stealth aircraft was carried out by Iran over the Gulf on Thursday, March 14th. A total of 50 Iranian, Shahed-171, Shahed-191, Shahed-123, and several Saegheh & Shahed 171 Simorgh stealth aircraft took part in the exercise held under the supervision of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards.

Iranian Mehr news agency reported that the Saegheh & Shahed 171 Simorgh aircraft used were technologically based on Lockheed Martin’s RQ-170 Sentinel.

This particular type of airplane had been “snatched” electronically by the Iranians on December 4, 2011 during a secret US mission over Iranian territory in the Kashmar area at a distance of 252 km from the Afghanistan border.

At that time, the Iranians had claimed that they managed to take control of the RQ-170 Sentinel, which flew over Iranian territory and land it safely.

The Iranians then worked on reverse-engineering the US aircraft and in 2014 they made the first flight of the Shahed 171 Simorgh, which at least looks at least surprising similar to the American RQ-170 Sentinel, and in September 2016 officially presented another Saegheh aircraft also based on the American system.

According to the Mehr news agency, a total of 50 of these different types participated in the exercise, which confirms that the Iranian defense industry has managed to build a relatively large number of these systems in a relatively short period of time.

One of them was brought down by the Israeli air force over northern Israel in February 2018, while in October 2018 some of the Saegheh took part in a target bombing in the Albu Kamal area in Syria.

As Mehr reported, Saegheh & Shahed 171 Simorgh aircraft operated at a distance of up to 1,000 km from their base without giving any further information.

But what the Iranians have tried to demonstrate is the massive involvement of UAV/UCAVs in the exercise to show the international community that their country has a large fleet of advanced stealth multi-mission aircraft in different versions that are ready and combat-tested.