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Iranian Air Defense Force Equips Karrar Drone with Homegrown Missile

By Nigar Bayramli October 24, 2023

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The Karrar drone was the first Iranian military drone to set a service ceiling record by reaching an altitude of 47,000 feet (14.3 km). / Tasnim News Agency

Iranian Army's Air Defense Force Commander, Brig-Gen Alireza Sabahifard, has announced that Iranian experts have adapted a domestically produced surface-to-air missile for the "Karrar" jet-powered drone.

According to Sabahifard, the Air Defense Force successfully equipped the Karrar drone with a heat-seeking air-to-air missile with an 8-kilometer range. After two years of research and trials, experts made a series of technical modifications to the "Majid" surface-to-air missile, transforming it into an air-launched missile.

Sabahifard emphasized that this achievement was a collaborative effort between the Air Defense Force and the Ministry of Defense. He further revealed that the Karrar drone is now armed with a Majid missile, featuring a warhead capable of detonating various aerial targets. This update was reported by Iran's Tasnim news agency on October 22.

The missile system has been named in honor of Majid Qorbankhani, an Iranian soldier who lost his life in Syria in 2015. Notably, the Karrar drone was the first Iranian military drone to set a service ceiling record by reaching an altitude of 47,000 feet.

This advanced interceptor drone has previously issued radar and radio warnings to foreign aircraft approaching Iran's coastal waters or its flight information region (FIR).

Iran initially unveiled its first domestically manufactured long-range combat drone, the Karrar (Striker), in August 2010. This drone boasts a range of 1,000 kilometers (620 miles) and can carry two 115 kg bombs or a precision-guided munition weighing 227 kg. The Karrar is known for its high-speed target bombing capabilities and employs a rocket assist system for takeoff, with recovery by parachute.

In January 2021, the Iranian Army demonstrated the capability of the Karrar drone by destroying a dummy target using an air-to-air Azarakhsh missile. This missile was fired from a Karrar jet-powered drone during a major drone exercise. The target was positioned at a high altitude and had a low radar cross-section.

In early October 2023, the Iranian Army introduced a new homegrown drone called the "Kaman-19" during an annual joint exercise that involved drones from all four units of the Iranian Army.

In recent years, Iranian military experts and technicians have made significant strides in domestically producing a wide range of equipment, achieving self-sufficiency in weaponry. Iranian officials have consistently emphasized their commitment to enhancing military capabilities, including missile and drone technology, despite Western sanctions.

While the West has expressed concerns about Tehran's support of Russia in the Ukrainian conflict and the provision of arms, particularly kamikaze drones, Iran denies supplying these arms with the intent for use in the war. Instead, they acknowledge delivering a "limited number" of drones several months before the Russian invasion of Ukraine.