Iran unveils kamikaze drones

Reuters

An undated picture received on December 8, 2011 shows a member of Iran's revolutionary guard (R) pointing at the U.S. RQ-170 unmanned spy plane as he speaks with Amirali Hajizadeh, a revolutionary guard commander, at an unknown location in Iran.

Article Highlights

  • If Iranians adopt suicide drones, they could open a new chapter in their asymmetric military strategy.

    Tweet This

  • The Iranian government has made no secret of its desire to develop a greater drone capability.

    Tweet This

  • Packed with explosives, Iranian suicide drones could wreak havoc with naval vessels in the Persian Gulf.

    Tweet This

With a population nearing 75 million, Iran is one of the most populous countries in the Middle East. The Islamic Republic has long sought to leverage its comparatively large population in the regime’s defense. During the Iran-Iraq War (1980-1988), for example, Iranian authorities would send unarmed and barefoot 14- and 15-year-old members of the paramilitary Basij across minefields to clear them, with only the promise of paradise to motivate them.

As the 1988 Operation Praying Mantis demonstrated, the Iranian military has difficulty confronting U.S. forces head on and its navy has since developed swarming techniques. This is meant to exploit American vulnerabilities and cause enough casualties to force American officials to shy away from a prolonged fight. This includes suicide attacks. The problem with suicide attacks, of course, is finding enough cadres willing to commit suicide. Not only does age tempers revolutionary ideology but demography also affects the availability of volunteers. Because the birthrate in Iran is only half of what it was during the Iran-Iraq War, the Iranian government recognizes that it cannot assume an endless supply of young men willing to take their own lives in pursuit of religious or revolutionary ideals.

It is against this backdrop that the excerpted news account should interest Western security officials. The Iranian government has made no secret of its desire to develop a greater drone capability. While Iranian claims to have reverse-engineered a captured American drone appear exaggerated, there is little doubt that the Iranian military has developed drones and put them into operation. The Islamic Republic already uses drones for surveillance, and has previously claimed to have armed them with small missiles. Suicide drones, however, do not require the same technical expertise as the well-armed predators that Iran has previously claimed to have developed. Packed with explosives, Iranian suicide drones could wreak havoc with naval vessels and international shipping in the Persian Gulf. Iranian attempts to make good on threats to close the Strait of Hormuz, for example, might involve kamikaze drones rather than mines. Even absent explosives, an Iranian willingness to collide drones with helicopters and jetfighters could hamper routine naval and army aviation along the borders of Iran. If the Iranian embrace of suicide drones is serious and if the Iranians master the technology, Iranian strategists might have just opened a new chapter in their asymmetric military strategy.

Also Visit
AEIdeas Blog The American Magazine
About the Author

 

Michael
Rubin

What's new on AEI

Defeating ISIS: AEI experts weigh-in before the president’s address on Wednesday
image Degrading, defeating, and destroying the Islamic State
image Wealth Building Home Loan: Building wealth through homeownership and retirement savings
image The $3 iPhone
AEI on Facebook
Events Calendar
  • 15
    MON
  • 16
    TUE
  • 17
    WED
  • 18
    THU
  • 19
    FRI
Tuesday, September 16, 2014 | 5:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m.
The Constitution as political theory

Please join us for the third-annual Walter Berns Constitution Day Lecture as James Ceasar, Harry F. Byrd Professor of Politics at the University of Virginia, explores some of the Constitution’s most significant contributions to political theory, focusing on themes that have been largely unexamined in current scholarship.

Event Registration is Closed
Wednesday, September 17, 2014 | 8:10 a.m. – Thursday, September 18, 2014 | 1:30 p.m.
Third international conference on housing risk: New risk measures and their applications

We invite you to join us for this year’s international conference on housing risk — cosponsored by the Collateral Risk Network and AEI International Center on Housing Risk — which will focus on new mortgage and collateral risk measures and their applications.

Event Registration is Closed
Thursday, September 18, 2014 | 2:15 p.m. – 3:00 p.m.
Speaker of the House John Boehner on resetting America’s economic foundation

Please join us as Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) delivers his five-point policy vision to reset America’s economy.

Friday, September 19, 2014 | 9:15 a.m. – 11:00 a.m.
Reforming Medicare: What does the public think?

Please join us as a panel of distinguished experts explore the implications of the report and the consumer role in shaping the future of Medicare.

No events scheduled this day.
No events scheduled this day.
No events scheduled this day.
No events scheduled this day.