Iran shows off underground drone base
Iran’s state media has offered its viewers a rare glimpse of one of the country’s underground military drone bases, with the footage depicting rows of combat UAVs parked inside the facility.
The video broadcast on Saturday is said to have been shot in the Zagros mountain range, which stretches from Iran’s Gulf coast all the way to its border with Iraq and Turkey in the north-west. No further details regarding the base’s location were disclosed, with the correspondent explaining that it had taken him 45 minutes to reach the base by helicopter from the city of Kermanshah in western Iran. All through the trip, which reportedly took place on Thursday, the journalist was blindfolded, and was only allowed to see his surroundings on arrival.
Chief of Staff of the #Iranian Armed Forces Major-General Mohammad Bagheri visits one of the Army's secret drone bases . He was briefed on the latest capabilities in the field of producing various military, offensive and long-range UAVs. pic.twitter.com/uWysD8j9P5— IRNA News Agency (@IrnaEnglish) May 28, 2022
The footage featured rows of combat drones carrying missiles, parked in a tunnel several hundred meters long, according to the report. Some of the military UAVs were apparently armed with Qaem-9 missiles, an Iranian copy of the US-made air-to-surface Hellfire. One model which was featured in the report, the Kaman-22, is said to be able to cover a distance of at least 2,000 kilometers (1,245 miles).
Video aired on state television also showed Iran’s Armed Forces Chief of Staff General Mohammad Bagheri and army Commander Abdolrahim Mousavi inspecting the underground base.
In the piece, Mousavi stated that there was “no doubt the drones of the Islamic Republic of Iran’s armed forces are the region’s most powerful.” He went on to add that Tehran’s “capability to upgrade drones is unstoppable.”
The military official also revealed that the secret facility was “several hundred meters underground.”
According to the report, “more than 100 combat, reconnaissance and attack drones belonging to the army are kept for operations in this base.” General Bagheri described the fleet of UAVs as “strategic.”
Bagheri pointed out, however, that there was no time for complacency, saying that the Iranian Armed Forces “never underestimate threats, we never assume the enemy is asleep, and we are constantly alert and vigilant.”
Iran first launched its military drone program back in the 1980s, during the war with Iraq.
The US, Israel and Saudi Arabia accuse Tehran of providing its regional allies with combat drones, with Lebanon’s Hezbollah movement, the Syrian government and Yemen’s Houthi rebels named as the alleged recipients.
Washington claims Iranian drones were behind the September 2019 strike on a Saudi oil refinery and the July 2021 attack on a commercial vessel off the coast of Oman that killed two crewmen.
Iran strongly denies any involvement.
In October 2021, the US Department of the Treasury imposed sanctions on Tehran’s drone program.