Shahed 129 (translated to English as : “Eye-Witness”) is an Iranian Unmanned Combat Aerial Vehicle (UCAV) first publicly unveiled in September 2012. The aircraft is claimed to be capable of carrying out combat and reconnaissance missions with an endurance of 24 hours, making it the first Iranian MALE UAV.
Shahed 129 seems similar in appearance to Israeli Hermes 450 UAV, though visibly larger. The overall configuration is similar however some sources suggest there are closer parallels to the British Watchkeeper WK450 Work on the project has been underway in 2007 as this was the time when Iran announced the production of cloned Wankel engines for UAV. Production of different parts of the UAV was assigned to different subsidiaries of IRGC like Malek Ashtar University and Shahed Research Center. The final assembly is done in HESA. In July 2012, Shahed 129 was first seen in Great Prophet 7 war games along with some other new UAV. But it was September 2012 that Iran officially unveiled the UAV. Shahed 129 having an endurance of 24 hours and a range of 1700–2000 km. As land based communications limit the range that the aircraft can go without losing the link to the control station, Shahed 129 uses an autopilot system similar to Karrar to follow some predefined way-points and conduct its mission, beyond control station’s communication range.
Iranian military officials have said that Shahed 129 UAV can increase Iran’s surveillance capabilities in border areas, the Persian Gulf and the Sea of Oman. Shahed 129 is said to be able to carry Sadid-1 missiles, making it Iran’s second weapons capable UAV after Karrar. This suggests that Sadid-1 is not solely a light anti-ship missile but supports more general purpose air to surface strike roles. Based on the footage, a rough estimate of the size of the drone would be: Wing span: 16 m and Length: ~8 m.
On September 2013 Iran has launched the mass-production of the indigenously developed Shahed 129 unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV), which was unveiled in September 2012, the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) announced. The drone was displayed recently in an armed configuration, carrying four guided missiles (Sadid) loaded on two twin-launchers, carried underwing. Iranian sources stated the drone can carry up to eight ‘weapons’, designed to hit stationary and mobile targets alike. The specifications referred to by Iranian sources mention an effective operational radius of 1,700 km, flight endurance of 24 hours, and a flight ceiling of 24,000 feet. It has a monitoring capability of 200 km radius.
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|Iran||Iran Aircraft Manufacturing Industrial Company (HESA)||Shahin Shahr,Esfahan||http://www.hesa.ir|