Iran and Russia have reportedly agreed to establish a joint drone manufacturing facility in Russia. This comes after the U.S. and European nations have imposed sanctions on Iranian-made drones going to Russia.
The Shahed-136 drones, which have been responsible for a series of attacks on Ukraine’s energy infrastructure, only cost around $20,000 to produce. The establishment of a drone factory in Russia is expected to result in the construction of an additional 6,000 drones, ready for deployment by Russian forces in Ukraine.
Ukraine receives 6 ‘Shahed catchers’ that will land down Iranian drones before they can reach critical infrastructure
— Euromaidan Press (@EuromaidanPress) January 27, 2023
According to the Wall Street Journal, the agreement to set up manufacturing operations was signed with Iran back in November. The new factory could result in the production of more effective UAVs, as the two nations aim to build a faster drone that could pose new challenges for Ukrainian air defenses.
The move is also an attempt to sidestep U.S. efforts to “choke off Iran’s ability to manufacture the drones” as U.S. forces help the Ukrainian military target drone launch sites. Ukrainian forces have regularly announced that their anti-air defenses have intercepted inbound Iranian drones, but these anti-air systems are many times more expensive than the drones themselves.
Ukraine’s Minister of Digital Transformation, Mykhailo Fedorov, has announced that the country has received its first six interceptors to counter the Iranian drones. The interceptors, named “Shahed catchers,” are designed to bring down Iranian drones before they can strike critical defense infrastructure.
Ukraine has acquired the latest systems now being used by the U.S. military to defend its most important defense infrastructure. The systems include radars, artificial intelligence jammers, and state-of-the-art Fortem DroneHunter F700 drones. That drone series is reportedly capable of intercepting and bringing down Shahed drones even when they are moving in excess of 100 kilometers per hour.
The American-designed anti-air systems needed to effectively intercept the Shahed drones are many times more expensive than the but effective Iranian drones.
The joint drone manufacturing facility could result in new, more advanced UAVs, which could pose a significant challenge to Ukraine’s air defenses. Despite the U.S. and European efforts to curb the production of Iranian drones, the agreement between Iran and Russia could result in the production of thousands of additional drones for deployment.