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    Iran’s Military Eyes Upgrades Including Drone With VTOL Capability, Ship With Vertical Launch System

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    Facing decades of sanctions following the Revolution of 1979, Iran's arms industry has developed a broad range of domestic analogues to advanced foreign weapons designs.

    Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps expects to test a new UAV with Vertical Takeoff and Landing (VTOL) capability next month, Gen. Ali Koohestani, director of the IRGC Ground Forces’ Research & Self-Sufficiency Jihad Organisation, has announced.

    The new drone, set to be tested between September 23 and October 22, is currently in the feasibility stage, and has been tasked to include both VTOL and conventional take-off and landing capability, Koohestani said, speaking to the Tasnim News Agency.

    “We have good infrastructure in this area, and thanks to the improved qualifications of our specialists we can have a say in the creation of UAVs,” the officer noted.

    Koohestani confirmed that domestically-made drones are already embedded with the artillery corps to provide laser guidance to forces on the ground, and noted that engineers in his charge have made significant progress in developing and manufacturing a broad range of military equipment, from artillery shells to aerial refueling equipment, to anti-tank weapons, assault rifles, tanks and jamming equipment.

    Destroyer With VLS

    Separately, Rear Admiral Hossein Khanzadi, commander of the Iranian Navy, announced Monday that the Damavand destroyer, which suffered damage after crashing into a jetty in January 2018 during a storm, would soon be back in service, fitted with vertical launch missile launcher systems and advanced radar systems.

    "The destroyer has been fully revived and this has been done in 18 months," the commander said, speaking at the opening of the 2019 International Army Games in southern Iran. "The destroyer has been equipped with new weapons and we are seeking to equip [it] with vertical launch system missiles," he added.

    In spite of its limited resources, Iran has become the producer of a wide range of military equipment, from drones and air defence systems to missiles to communications equipment. Last month, Iran’s ground forces reported that they had received a batch of Mohajer-6 surveillance and combat drones, with the drones, first introduced in 2018, previously available only to the IRGC.

    Long-standing tensions between Iran and the US escalated to a boiling point on June 20, after the IRGC shot down a $220 million US spy drone in the Strait of Hormuz. President Trump later confirmed that the incident brought the two countries to the brink of war, saying he called off ‘retaliatory’ airstrikes just moments before they were set to start, deciding the likely deaths of as many as 150 Iranian servicemen wouldn’t be “proportionate” to the shoot down.

    Head of the Revolutionary Guard's aerospace division Gen. Amir Ali Hajizadeh looks at debris from what the division describes as the U.S. drone which was shot down on Thursday, in Tehran, Iran, Friday, June 21, 2019
    © AP Photo / Meghdad Madadi
    Head of the Revolutionary Guard's aerospace division Gen. Amir Ali Hajizadeh looks at debris from what the division describes as the U.S. drone which was shot down on Thursday, in Tehran, Iran, Friday, June 21, 2019

    Last week, a spokesman for US Central Command reiterated the US claim that the drone was shot down over international waters, and challenged Iran’s statement that it had warned the US repeatedly before firing on the errant UAV. The spokesman did not comment on whether Iran had warned the Poseidon P-8 spy plane with 35 airman onboard which was flying nearby, and which Iran said was also in range of its missiles, but spared from attack.

    Last month, the US Navy reported that the USS Boxer Wasp-class amphibious assault ship operating in the Gulf had destroyed at least one Iranian drone after it came within “threatening range” of the ship. Iran denied the claims, calling them “quite a big lie” and saying that the reports of the shootdown prompted the IRGC to check and recheck “several times with our different units” to ensure that no drones had been lost.

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