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Shahed 129: Iran’s Very Own Predator Drone That Fights F-15s?

Iran’s drones have typically been knock-off western technology with limited ordinance capacity and very limited range when compared to their American counterparts. But, Tehran’s drone program be getting a GPS boost.

Shahed 129

Iran’s drone program operates a variety of Unmanned Arial Vehicles (UAVs). The backbone of their UAV program is the Shahed 129, a large-sized armed drone, visually similar to the American General Atomics MQ-1 Predator, though the Predator is a vastly more capable platform.

While the earlier (presumable first-generation) Shahed 129s had a thinner, more pencil-shaped fuselage, the newer models have a distinctly Predator-like nose bulge, presumably to accommodate a synthetic-aperture radar antenna, a higher-resolution radar system, or perhaps a link for satellite-based navigation.

The early-model Shahed 129s (and possibly the newer models as well) were limited not so much by fuel capacity as by their data-link capacity.

The United States’ MQ-1 Predators can be operated from virtually anywhere in the world, while the Shahed 129 is reliant on a ground operator. If true, dependence on a ground-based controller would likely limit the Shahed 129’s range to 200-400 kilometers (125-250 miles).

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