According to the WSJ, Moscow, and Tehran are promoting plans to build factories on Russian territory to produce at least 6,000 Iranian-designed UAVs.
Unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) designed by Iran will be produced at this plant to serve military operations, including the operation in Ukraine; the WSJ on February 5 quoted officials of one country as saying allies with the US.
According to the officials, a high-ranking Iranian delegation visited Russia in January to visit the plant’s proposed site and draw up a plan for the project’s implementation. Russia and Iran intend to equip new engines for the Shahed-136-type UAVs so that they can fly faster and farther, which could pose a big challenge to Ukraine.
The drone factory is believed to be part of a $1 billion deal between Russia and Iran. Western officials say Russia has passed on to Iran Western weapons it obtained in Ukraine for Tehran to study and copy.
Russia and Iran have not commented on the information. US officials accuse Iran of supplying Russia with hundreds of UAVs to attack military and civilian targets in Ukraine. Iran admits to supplying Russia with UAVs but insists they were delivered before the war in Ukraine broke out.
The administration of US President Joe Biden said that Russia and Iran are developing a “comprehensive defense relationship.” The White House said Russia is training Iranian pilots to fly fighters and could deliver some of the planes to the Middle Eastern country by the end of 2023.
Since October 2022, Russia has increased the use of Geran-2 UAVs and missiles to attack Ukraine’s military command infrastructure and energy and ammunition depots.
The Geran-2 UAV is the same size and shape as the Shahed-136 model, carrying a small number of explosives and rushing toward the target to destroy them.
Ukraine calls attacks on its infrastructure a “war crime,” accusing Russia of intentionally harming civilians. Meanwhile, Russia claimed that the raids were aimed at halting Ukraine’s weapons production and maintenance and preventing the country from using railways to transport troops, weapons, and ammunition to the front lines.