Russian Defense Industries Can’t Manufacture Drones, Russia Buys Drones From Belarus and Iran

An Iranian underground drone base with reverse engineered MQ-9 Reaper copycat drone. The US says Iran is set to supply Russia with hundreds of combat drones for use in its war in Ukraine. Photograph: Iranian Army office/AFP/Getty Images

A top US official said Monday is ahead of Vladimir Putin’s visit to Tehran next week. Iran plans to supply hundreds of drones with combat weapons to Russia for use in Ukraine.

Jake Sullivan, the White House national security advisor, said the information the US received supported that the Russian military is facing challenges sustaining its weaponry after significant losses in Ukraine.

“The Iranian government is preparing to provide Russia with up to several hundred UAVs (unmanned aerial vehicles), including weapons-capable UAVs, on an expedited timeline,” Sullivan told reporters.

“Our information further indicates that Iran is preparing to train Russian forces to use these UAVs, with initial training sessions slated to begin as soon as early July,” he said.

Russia’s lack of experience manufacturing combat drones led to catastrophic failure in the Ukraine war. Russia so far manufactures Orlan-10 surveillance drones from Chinese and American parts. Russia recently received combat drones from Iran and Belarus, reported DW News.

Sullivan said it was unclear whether Iran had yet delivered any of the drones to Russia.

He noted that Iran’s drones had been used by the Houthi rebels in Yemen to attack Saudi Arabia.

Drones have played a crucial role on both sides of the war in Ukraine, for everything from firing missiles from a distance, to dropping small bombs on targets to conducting reconnaissance for artillery forces and ground troops.

Ukraine’s forces have successfully used Turkish-made Bayraktar armed combat UAVs, and the United States and other allies have supplied Kyiv with many types of smaller drones.

“From our perspective, we will continue to do our part to help sustain the effective defense of Ukraine and to help the Ukrainians show that the Russian effort to try to wipe Ukraine off the map cannot succeed,” Sullivan said.

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