Iran may send Arash-2 drones to Russia. What does this mean for war?

(CNN Spanish) — For weeks, Russia has bombed Ukrainian cities with military drones allegedly supplied by Iran, according to Ukrainian and Western reports.

Iran denies the delivery of these drones, although Ukraine shot down some of the devices and provided evidence of their alleged origin.

At this time, the presence or delivery of conventional UAVs of Iranian origin Mohajer-6, Shahed-129 and Shahed-191, unmanned aerial vehicles capable of carrying weapons or performing surveillance tasks, as well as Shahed-136, a hovering type of munition that falls on targets, self-destructive.

These drones, which operate as cheaper versions — the Shahed-136 costs about $20,000 — and less capable versions of ballistic and cruise missiles that Russia also uses in Ukraine, have been launched against numerous targets, causing death and damage to Ukraine’s energy infrastructure. Furthermore, Ukrainian forces say they have shot down more than 300 of these drones since mid-September.

Now, Ukrainian intelligence officials say Iran plans to send a new batch of 200 drones to Russia that includes the Arash-2, a long-range conventional drone, as well as the Mojaher-6 and Shahed-136. CNN was unable to independently verify this information.

The report notes that the drones are shipped unassembled and then assembled in Russia, where they are also “repainted and given Russian markings.”

In addition, US intelligence sources told CNN that Iran has sent military personnel to the Crimean peninsula, which Russia has occupied since 2014, to train and advise the Russian military on the use of these drones.

What Arash-2 can and cannot do?

If the report of the latest deliveries is confirmed, the presence of the Arash-2 represents an increase in the offensive capabilities of the drone forces deployed by Russia in Ukraine, although it is unclear whether this could have any real impact on the war.

It is a hovering munition like the Shahed-136, that is, they are disposable and crash on their targets, but they are more sophisticated and can carry more weapons and explosives than the Shahed-136, and have a range of more than 2,000 kilometers. , according to Iranian reports.

Drones used by Russia against Ukraine contain up to 50 kilograms of explosives 3:38

These figures would put the Arash-2 among the world’s longest-range drones, although the information has not been confirmed by Western sources, and the Iranians often exaggerate the capabilities of their weapons systems in their reports for propaganda purposes.

In any case, even with their greater capabilities, the Arash-2s would arrive, if the reports are confirmed, to bolster Russia’s drone offensive at a time when Moscow appears to be rapidly depleting its stockpile of ballistic and cruise missiles. more powerful, more precise, heavy-hitting weapons and with a longer range than drones.

Even with its greater advantages, the Arash-2, like other unmanned aerial vehicles, flies low, slow and has a low destructive capacity — so much so that it can only be used against civilian or unspecified targets — and less so than other conventional weapons systems.

A strategy that is not what it seems

According to Lauren Kahn, an expert at the Council on Foreign Relations, a think tank are based in New York, the use of drones has had limited effects in the war, with Ukrainian forces able to shoot down between 60 and 86% of drones launched against them by jamming their systems and using light anti-aircraft weapons, figures from a British Ministry of Defense intelligence report .

Drones are seen in an underground location in an undisclosed location in Iran, in this hand-held image taken on May 28, 2022. (Credit: Iran Army/WANA/Reuters)

Why would Russia use them then?

Because it appears to be an effective psychological weapon against the population — the mere noise of its small, lawnmower-like engines inspires terror — and because the attacks force Ukraine to deploy valuable resources — its anti-aircraft weapons systems — far from the front, according to Kahn.

Steven Feldstein, del think tank The Carnegie Foundation agrees that the use of drones is for psychological purposes: to cause fear and intimidation in order to strike at Ukrainian morale and the will to fight.

The very sensational use of the term “kamikaze drones” to describe hovering munitions fits into this Russian narrative, according to the expert.

However, history seems to be against this psychological strategy. Germany used it against the United Kingdom in 1940-1941, the so-called “Blitz” – the bombing of London and other cities – and this only strengthened the British will to fight.

The situation was then reversed: the United Kingdom and the United States flattened Germany’s largest cities between 1943 and 1945 in the middle of their strategic bombing campaign, and the Germans continued to fight desperately until Soviet tanks entered Berlin.

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