Iran's MQ-9 ripoff, the 'Mohajer-10' can fly for 24 hours

Like North Korea, Iran has unveiled its apparent clone of America's "hunter-killer" MQ-9 'Reaper' drone.
Christopher McFadden
Image of the new drone being inspected by Iranian officials.

Iranian defence ministry/AFP 

Iranian state media has released images of a new Iranian drone that, it is claimed, can stay airborne for 24 hours. First reported by the Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA), the new drone resembles America's armed MQ-9 "Reaper." Called the  “Mohajer-10” (meaning “immigrant” in Farsi), the drone has a range of 1,243 miles (2,000 kilometers) and was unveiled on Tuesday (August 22, 2023) morning in a ceremony marking Defense Industry Day. This now makes at least two nation-states that appear to have reverse-engineered some US drone technology.

Could strike Israel

According to the IRNA, the drone has a "fuel capacity of [119 US gallons] 450 liters and a maximum payload weight of [661 lbs] 300 kilograms."  The IRNA also reports that the "drone can fly at a maximum speed of [131 mph] 210 km/hr and carry different ammunition and bombs. It is also equipped with electronic warfare and intelligence-gathering systems." If this capability is correct, the drone would likely have the range to strike targets in Israel if launched from Western Iran.

Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi and senior commanders from the army, and the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) were present at the event where the drone was unveiled. The unmanned attack aircraft, similar to the MQ-9 "Reaper," was shown taking off from an undisclosed airstrip and conducting surveillance. The new drone can, it is claimed, carry a variety of bombs and anti-radar equipment. “Today, we can firmly introduce Iran as an advanced and technologic nation to the world,” Raisi said in comments aired on state television, reports The Times of Israel.

IRNA also claims the drone can fly up to 24,000 feet (7,315 meters) and carry electronic surveillance equipment and a camera. According to state TV, Iran's armed forces will retaliate against any attempt to invade Iran while maintaining friendly relations with all countries.

The Associated Press (AP) could not immediately verify claims about the drone's capabilities. However, a state television arm shared a video of the drone taking off from a runway. Like the "Reaper," long-range drones require ground stations and satellite communications.

US Reaper copycat

There is no evidence that Iran has captured General Atomics' "Reaper," a "hunter-killer" drone flown by the US Air Force and its allies. For example. in December 2011, Iran seized a CIA drone monitoring nuclear sites. Later, they are believed to have reverse-engineered it to create their variants. In 2019, Iran shot down a US Navy drone in the Strait of Hormuz during high tensions over the nuclear deal.

Raisi stated that Iran's military progress has changed the global perception of Tehran, reports Al Jazeera. “Yesterday, they viewed us as consumer and a country in need. Today, they see us as a producer who can have much to say in the defense and military industries,” he said.

Western powers have accused Tehran of supplying drones to Russia, including an earlier version of the "Mohajer." The unveiling comes one day after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu blamed Iran for funding and encouraging a shooting attack on Israelis in Hebron in the occupied West and other recent attacks against Israelis.

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