Iran Announces Development of Seaplane "Suicide Drone"
On Wednesday, Iranian state media released an image of a seaplane drone that can be equipped with "payloads of explosives for combat missions," then flown into a seaborne or land-based target – effectively a slow-moving guided missile. Western media have labeled the device a "suicide drone."
The primary purpose of the small aircraft, however, is for maritime surveillance at low-to-medium altitudes. The drone can land on water and has a range of 600 miles at up to 3,000 feet. Tasnim said that the drone is not designed to carry a missile payload.
The announcement comes at a time of heightened tensions between Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and the U.S. Navy, which alleges that the IRGC has engaged in a pattern of dangerous close approaches to its warships over the course of the past year.
Handout images, no longer available on state-run Tasnim News but reproduced separately by the Iran Project, show the seagoing drone in an incongruous office setting. Its twin engines appear comparable to off-the-shelf single cylinder models sold for model airplanes.
The Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps also announced earlier this month that it had developed a new variant of what it calls the Simorgh-class aerial drone, a reverse-engineered Lockheed Martin RQ-170. Iran claims to have captured one of the advanced American UAVs several years ago and to have replicated its features.