Amidst a denial by Tehran and Moscow of the White Houses' assertion that Tehran is preparing to supply 100s of drone to Russia, is a question that begs to be asked; Does Moscow need foreign-made to persecute its war against Ukraine?
U.S. national security adviser Jake Sullivan, told reporters at a briefing July 12 that the first Iranian drones should arrive in Russia this month, with the start of training for the personnel of the RF Armed Forces. He clarified that such UAVs are used by the Yemeni Houthi rebels to strike at Saudi Arabia.
In response, a Russian Kremlin spokesperson said, "apparently, this statement is timed to coincide with the Middle East tour of Joseph Biden, scheduled for July 13-16, and should further warm up anti-Iranian sentiments in the Arab states through the targeted dissemination of disinformation about cooperation between the Russian Federation and the Islamic Republic of Iran in the sensitive military-technical sphere".
Iran has over the years developed a number of drones for both attack and reconnaissance. The much-publicized attack on Saudi Arabia's oil facilities in 2011 where Yemen's Houti rebels allegedly launched Iran-sourced drones or missiles that went under the cover of Saudi air defenses to strike at oil storage depots is a case to point.
Russia too has emerged as a drone power on its own. Its Orion, Okhatnik and Zala Aero drones, to name a few, has been repeatedly shown by Russian state TV as being active in Ukraine. Russian drones are more sophisticated than anything that Tehran has to offer.
Russian forces have regularly used drones to guide artillery fire and air-launched missiles at Ukrainian targets. Attack drones have been less successful due to the enemy's ability to track and launch missiles at the drones. Russia itself claims to have destroyed hundreds of drones used by the Ukrainian military while the latter has claimed kills of tens of Russian drones.
Attack drones not a favorite of Russian military in Ukraine
Use of attack drones have not been the favorite of the Russian military in Ukraine which instead relies on precision-hit missiles launched from long range strategic aircraft or sea platforms. or frigates. Shorter range targets are hit by air to ground or missiles launched from helicopters and fighter jets such as the Su-30SM, the Su-35 and Su-34.
The Ukrainian air defense's ability to knock down drones thanks to intelligence received from NATO is the main reason for Russia avoiding slow-moving drones in combat. Even Ukraine, which relied used Turkish Bayraktar drones to good effect in the initial days of the current battle has reduced their use as the drones are susceptible to Russian electronic attack and satellite based tracking systems that point the drones to Russian surface-to-air missile systems.