Accessibility links

Breaking News

Iran Army Introduces New Drones, Upgrades Older UAV Models

Ababil 3 and Atlas drones on display
Ababil 3 and Atlas drones on display

A large number of new combat and reconnaissance drones were delivered to the Iranian army on Sunday April 19 and IRGC-linked news agency Tasnim has presented details about each model on April 21.

According to Tasnim, the drones include new generations of Atlas and Ababil drones, adding that the two models Ababil-3 and Karrar had been showcased previously.

The UAVs [Unmanned Aerial Vehicles] are to be used by the Air Force and Air Defense Units of Iran's conventional army, the report said. Iran has introduced these high-cost drones while it has been complaining about the adverse impact of US sanctions on its economy.

Last week, General Kiumars Heydari, the Commander of the Ground Force of the Army had said on the occasion of the Army Day (April 17) that the new weapons are going to be issued to army units. As far as his own units at the ground force were concerned, Heydari said that the G-3 rifle was going to be replaced with a type of MP-5 weapon the Ministry of Defense has provided and the T-90 tanks will be introduced to the ground force's armored units.

Another commander broke the news about new drones that can reach Israel but did not elaborate on the type of the UAV, its fuel, guiding and navigation system and other specifications.

The drones introduced in a ceremony in the presence of the Minister of Defense and Army commanders included Ababil-3, Karrar, Atlas, and Naseh.

This is how Tasnim described the aircraft. According to Western observers Islamic Republic sources often exaggerate the capabilities of its armament.

Ababil-3 drone
Ababil-3 drone


Although Ababil-3 was officially first delivered to the Iranian armed forces in November 2014, it has been part of the Iranian army's arsenal since May 2010 when pictures of it were first published during a military exercise over the Persian Gulf simulating a reconnaissance mission to check out vessels sailing in the Gulf.

Ababil-3 was also observed in several other military exercises between 2010 and 2014. It can fly up to 8 hours and can transmit pictures to its base or to any other platform within a range of 250 Km from its base.

It is gasoline-fuelled, has a composite body and can fly up to an altitude of 15 thousand feet. According to Tasnim, this drone has been in use "at the resistance front" which could mean, Iraq, Syria, Southern Lebanon, Yemen and possibly elsewhere.

Initially a reconnaissance UAV with two revolving cameras, Ababil-3 is now mounted with Ghaem bombs to convert it into a combat flyer.


Karrar drone
Karrar drone

The is the first Iranian made drone flying with a turbojet engine. Karrar was first showcased in 2010.

It carries 500 Kg of fuel, has a range of 1,000 km and can fly with a speed of up to 900 Km/hr.

Karrar can reschedule its flight mid-air and also can shut off enemy jamming devices.

Karrar has been used in reconnaissance and interception missions and boasts a very efficient navigation system.

Depending on the mission it can fly in an altitude between 25,000 to 40,000 feet. It can fire anti-vessel Kowsar cruise missiles to target vessels within 25 kilometres.


Atlas drone
Atlas drone

Atlas is an upgraded version of Ababil-3, and one of the new models that were displayed on Sunday.

Its main structure is similar to Ababil-3 but improvements have been made in some of its functions including its landing mechanism. The front wheel has a hydraulic system and improvements have been made in the rear wheels and axis to make take-off and landing smoother.

Atlas can carry Ghaem bombs and its wings and body have been fortified to make it capable of carrying at least two bombs. However, the biggest advantage of Atlas to older models is its auto take-off and landing system and a laser sensor underneath the body which makes it more agile and capable of landing and taking off without help from a pilot.

With this system, the UAV can change the landing area if the situation in the pre-planned area is not ideal for landing.



This is yet another jet-engine drone with a turbojet engine made by the Qods Defense Industries.

It is mainly used for training or for misleading enemy radars. Its engine is the same model used in Karrar Drone and Noor cruise missiles. Atlas is made based on the US Drone MQM-107. It can fly for less than an hour with a speed of ).7 Mach. It lands with a parachute at the end of its mission.

Its low-wings system gives it a high manoeuvrability in high speed. Therefore, air defense personnel use it while being trained to work on the defense system to make the test and training situation similar to real situations.

Atlas does not carry bombs. However, it carries payloads that are used for other purposes including the ones that are dropped so that air defense system can deal with them as bombs and missiles.

In September 2017, a similar drone was seen during a military exercise while carrying 4 Misagh-1 missiles.