Tuesday, April 13, 2021

Can Iran Dominate Middle-East Airspace With Indigenous Version Of MQ-9 Reaper Drones?

Has Iran launched its own version of the US’ MQ-9 Reaper drone? The Middle-Eastern nation has unveiled its new Kaman-22 drone, which is said to be based on American drones such as the MQ-1 Predator and the ‘most lethal’ MQ-9 Reaper.

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The latest drone comes four years after Iran purportedly captured a Predator UAV belonging to the US military. The drone was reportedly captured by the Iranian forces, who claimed it was a US Army MQ-1C Gray Eagle UAV. However, later it was revealed it was not Grey Eagle and was something else.

Regardless of that, the new drone appears to be Iran’s answer to the US-made drones that are considered the most lethal.

The new Kaman-22 unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) is expected to provide a big boost to Iran’s indigenous defense sector. The latest one is an upgrade of its existing Kaman-12 UAV.

The Kaman-22 bears resemblances to its western counterparts, the Predator MQ-1 and the Reaper MQ-9. Built by American energy and defense corporation, General Atomics, the MQ-1 Predator is a remotely piloted aircraft (RPA) that was designed for the use of the United States Air Force (USAF) and the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).

The drone was initially designed for fulfilling roles that included aerial reconnaissance and forward observation roles, and now carries cameras and other sensors to carry out a wide range of missions.

The US’ MQ-9 Reaper drone

Its upgraded version — the MQ-1C Gray Eagle is a medium-altitude, long-endurance unmanned aircraft system — is one of the most efficient drones in use currently.

It can perform a host of missions including intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance, and can also carry small missiles and bombs enabling tactical strike capabilities.

The 28-ft long drone, which was developed by General Atomics Aeronautical Systems (GA-ASI) for the US Army, has an endurance of 25 hours and possessed the ability to speed up to167 KTAS.

The drone can fly up to 29,000 feet and carry 1,075 lb (488 kg) of internal and external payload.

While there is a lack of intelligence on the complete list of abilities of the new Kaman-22 drone, Iranian officials told some local news outlets that the drone has an endurance of more than 24 hours and a range of 1,860 miles.

“The Kaman-22 drone is capable of carrying all types of payloads with very long flight duration [and] has the ability to identify, monitor, and collect information and photograph distant targets,” said Brigadier General Aziz Nasirzadeh, commander of the Islamic Republic of Iran Air Force (IRIAF).

The US Air Force claims its Predator has a range of about 770 miles, and the more advanced Reaper drone has a range of around 1,150 miles.

The high-altitude, long-endurance MQ-9 Reaper drone is considered one of the most advanced drones in the world and is capable of being remotely controlled or autonomous flight operations.

In contrast, Iran’s Kaman-22 drone could carry approximately 661 pounds (300 kg) of explosives. It is also said that training is underway currently so that Iranian professionals can learning to operate the drone.

The Kaman-22 seems to have a pusher propeller powerplant. However, there is a lack of clarity on the type of engine that has been used to power the advanced drone.

The Predator is powered by a four-cylinder piston engine, with the Reaper drone employing a turboprop.

The new Iranian drone also appears to have straight wing features with weapon hardpoints, with upturned tips and mini winglets, along with an upward V-shaped tail and ventral fin.

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