Mohajer (translated from Persian as “Migrant”) or Mersad series of unmanned aerial vehicles is built by Iran and operated by Iran and Hezbollah. The Mohajer is primarily used to spy on military installations, enemy positions, etc. It may also be capable of guiding laser-guided munitions to their targets.
Mohajer was first developed at the peak of the Iran-Iraq war. Studies started between 1980 by Iranian universities and IRGC as Iran needed surveillance equipment to gather information about Iraqi moves. Four prototypes were built in 1981 and were initially put into service to monitor the enemy lines in Shalamche. This drone which was later named Mohajer 1 was Iran’s first step to manufacture UAVs. Mohajer continued to photograph Iraqi lines to the end of the war and accomplished 619 sorties at the end. There are reports indicating that Mohajer 1 was armed with six RPG-7 rockets to attack enemy positions, making it the first UCAV used in War.
Following the successful use of Mohajer 1, Iran wanted a version with more range and endurance to monitor distant unreachable places. The version which was later named Mohajer 2 also had an auto pilot system to help it in its missions in places far from the reach of radio waves of command center. Its body was completely built with composite materials. More than 200 Mohajer 2s are built as of 2011.
Mohajer 3 (also called Hodhod) was developed to further increase the range and endurance. The body was redesigned to achieve this goal.
Mohajer 4 was later designed for both Iranian Army and IRGC. The body was again redesigned and better cameras were installed on the drone. Range and endurance were increased much more. There are two other variants of Mohajer 4 called “Hodhod A/100” and “Shahin”. As of 2006, 30 Mohajer 4 and 10 Shahins were built.
During the 1990s civil war in Afghanistan, Mohajer drones were reported to monitor the situation. On November 7, 2004, Hezbollah, flew a Mohajer-4 over northern Israel for about 5 minutes. The UAV entered Israeli airspace at more than 100 knots and an altitude of about 1,000 feet, flew briefly over the seaside city of Nahariya, and fell into the sea. Iran sold eight Mohajer-4s to Hezbollah, according to an unnamed Iranian Revolutionary Guards senior officer quoted by London-based Arab daily newspaper Asharq Al-Awsat.
In 2010, US satellite images revealed a Venezuelan facility that is reported to be manufacturing Iranian drones. Later, Venezuela unveiled a drone called SANT Arpía which is identical to Mohajer 2 except that it uses skids to protect the camera during the parachute recovery. This feature was only seen on Mohajer 4. According to some sources, Venezuela signed a $28 million contract to manufacture Mohajer 2 despite sanctions that prohibited Iran from exporting arms.
Mohajer-1: Initial variant developed during Iran-Iraq war.
Mohajer-2: Slightly better range. Addition of auto pilot systems. Had an endurance of 1.5 hours and range of 50 km.
Mohajer-3: Features a more box shaped body that is different from cylinder shaped bodies of Mohajer 1 and 2. With a range of 100 km and endurance of 2–3 hours.
Mohajer-4: Body is again redesigned and features low mounted trapezoid shaped wings with upward wingtips to lessen the drag. Operational range is increased to 150 km, altitude to 15000 feet and endurance to 7 hours. The weight of the drone is almost double of the older versions. There are two sub-versions with unknown differences called “Hodhod A/100” and “Shahin”.
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