Iran’s supply of drones to Russia for its war effort in Ukraine appears to have escalated in recent months after a study released this week found Tehran has modified its drones to employ maximum damage.
A January report by Conflict Armament Research (CAR) released publicly Thursday broke down why the affordably made Iranian Shahed-131 single-use drones have been employed to significant effect in Ukraine.
Russia has relied on Iranian-supplied unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) in Ukraine for months to help assist with its diminishing missile stockpiles as the war continues into its 11th month, according to the Pentagon.
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Iranian drones have been used to hit civilian structures and target Ukraine’s critical infrastructure as Russia looks to bombard the war-torn nation in near-daily strikes.
One of the defining characteristics of the drone reviewed in the CAR report is the fact that it not only has a primary charge on the forward section of the warhead, but the body of the drone also contains 18 smaller “shaped charges” around the warhead that generates “a secondary radial anti-armor effect.”
The warhead also had “pre-serrated fragmentation matrixes” on the front and rear of the drone which consisted of 11 layers of fragmented cubes that are “designed to generate an additional radial fragmentation effect for soft-skin targets.”
The fragmented matrixes are believed to be a later modification to the warhead, which were apparently crudely added as the “fit, finish, alignment and quality” were described as “poor.”
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But despite the lack of quality control, the multipurpose warheads are believed to have been “designed specifically for attacks against large targets like energy infrastructure.”
CAR previously found that the Shahed drone can be fitted with other warheads intended for different targets and striking abilities.
A November 2022 CAR report found that other Shahed-136 UAV warheads had been reinforced with a 7-mm-thick steel casing which allowed it “to penetrate structures before detonating.”
The varied warhead could also be fitted with a delayed fuse mechanism “designed to initiate the main charge once inside the intended target.”
The findings come as Russia prepares for a major offensive in Ukraine and reports this week signaled Moscow and Tehran were moving forward with plans to develop drones in Russia.
Defense officials have become increasingly concerned by the expanding relationship between Russia and Iran, particularly as Moscow looks to shore up its defenses with other Western adversaries like North Korea and China.
“Witnessing the strengthening alliance between Russia and Iran, and the use of Iranian weapons by Russia to perpetrate war crimes in Ukraine, it should be clear to the world that Iran is a global disruptor and menace which does not only concern Israel or the Middle East,” Brig. Gen. (Res) Yossi Kupperwasser, a security expert and Senior Researcher at the Israel Defense Security Forum, told Fox News Digital. “Iran should be treated as such and met with a unified front of Western powers, led by the US”
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US intelligence officials in November were first alerted to the Moscow-Tehran plans to manufacture Iranian drones in Russia, which would provide faster and more efficient drone transport to Russia’s ranks in Ukraine.
Last week, the Biden administration sanctioned eight additional individuals on the board of directors for Iranian drone manufacturer Paravar Pars, which is already under US and EU sanctions.