According to Defense Intelligence Agency analysts, the agency is inviting foreign officials from other countries to view debris recovered by drones that were shot down in Ukraine or Iraq. The debris is said to be “undeniable evidence” that Tehran is providing Russia a fleet of armed one-way aircraft to support its war against Ukraine.
DIA analysts have collected and analyzed the debris of several drones that were shot down in Ukraine, Iraq and Afghanistan. They are now presenting these findings to foreign governments and members of Congress to refute Iran’s public denials that it was supplying Russia armed drones to fight in Ukraine.
A DIA spokesperson stated that the Iranian support for Russia’s invasion of Ukraine reflects a growing partnership between both countries. It also coincides with reports that Russian technicians have been helping Iran develop its space-launched vehicles program. This could help Tehran achieve its goal of developing intercontinental missiles.
A senior analyst explained to a small group reporters that the purpose of the briefings about the Iranian Shahed Drones was to “hold Iran to account” and provide concrete proof that these one-way armed, drones used by Russian forces to target civilians are designed and made by Iran. The DIA refused to reveal which foreign governments received a presentation by the agency.
Analyst presented remnants from drones that were shot down in Ukraine. These included parts of a propeller and wing, as well as a drone which was found in Iraq. The drones were identical. They had the same triangular shape, wingspan and fiberglass fuselage, as well as a rudimentary rear propeller motor.
The analyst stated that “the evidence is clear and unmistakable” that Russia uses drones made in Iran to fly one-way missions over Ukraine.
The analyst stated that the aircraft, despite being found thousands of miles away over a period of more than a calendar year, were almost indistinguishable, except for Russian Cyrillic letters stamped on the tails found in Ukraine spelling out the Russian names for the Iranian made 131 drones called the Geran 1.
The analyst took a piece from the drone that was found in Ukraine, and put it into another drone that had been recovered from Iraq. The analyst said, “It fits perfect,” as he placed a square panel antenna. “Like pieces in a jigsaw puzzle,” he added.
Analysts said that the drones found in Ukraine and Iraq had serial numbers located in the same place with similar sequences. The fiberglass fuselage also contained the same honeycomb-like material, a feature unique to Iranian drones.
The DIA analyst stated that the drones discovered in the Kurdish area of Iraq were used last year in an operation openly acknowledged by Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps which targeted Kurdish resistance groups. A commander of the IRGC publicly stated that drones and missiles were used.
The Iranian mission at the United Nations has not responded to a comment request.
Amir-Abdollahian, the Foreign Minister of Iran, has claimed that Iran provided drones to Russia. He also claims that the unmanned aircraft were delivered months before February 2022’s invasion of Ukraine.
Russia has also denied that it uses drones manufactured in Iran.
The U.S. demanded last year that the United Nations investigate Russia’s use of Iranian drones during the war in Ukraine. They said it was a violation to U.N. sanctions. A U.N. Resolution from 2015 prohibits all countries to transfer weapons from Iran unless the Security Council has approved it in advance.
Analysts said that the Shahed drones were relatively simple, without sophisticated electronics or cameras, and could be launched anywhere by following a preprogrammed path.
The analyst stated that the Russians do not use Iranian drones for combat in Ukraine. Instead, they target buildings and cities in order to spread terror, weaken Ukraine’s air defences, and damage water or electricity plants. He said that the drones were launched in groups of 20 or more at a given time. The drones’ propeller engines sound like a lawnmower or moped.
The analyst stated that “the striking aspect is their simplicity.” It’s easy, cheap, and effective.
He added that the drones are equipped with electronic components “that you can purchase off-the-shelf”.
According to the DIA, the Shahed-131 has a warhead weighing about 20 kilograms with a cruising velocity of 125 mph.
In June, White House released images showing what officials claimed was a drone manufacturing facility being built with Iran’s help east of Moscow.
A DIA spokesperson stated that the plant located in Alabuga, a special economic zone of the Russian republic Tatarstan in Russia, “could drastically increase the supply” of one-way drones for Russia. DIA believes the drones in use today were made in Iran.
According to a senior DIA analyst, Russia has already used at least 400 Iranian Shahed drones for air attacks against cities and civil infrastructure.
A DIA spokesperson stated that “as Tehran expands both its capability and role in the Middle East as an unconventional and traditional threat, it is now more important than ever to understand Iran’s militaristic power and the threats it poses to our interest, our allies and our own safety.”
Iran is receiving technical advice to boost its ballistic missile programme from Russian engineers in exchange for drone deliveries.
A DIA spokesperson said that the support of Iran for Russia’s invasion in Ukraine coincides, as there are indications of Russian technicians helping Tehran with its program of space-launched vehicles (SLV), which could help Iran achieve its goal of developing a Intercontinental Ballistic Missile.
The spokesperson stated that “Russia probably sent technicians in the last year to help Tehran with some aspects of their missile program and its SLV effort.” In 2022, Russia launched and built a satellite for Iran.
Bill Burns, Director of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), said last month at the Aspen Security Forum there were “signs that Russian technicians are working on the space-launch vehicle program in Iran and other aspects of their missile program.”