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Russia continues to use Iranian Shahed-136 suicide drones to strike Ukraine

According to information published on the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine Facebook account on October 23, 2022, during the night of October 23, 2022, the Russian armed forces have strike South part of Ukraine using Iranian-made Shahed-136 loitering ammunition also called suicide drones.
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Debris of what Ukrainian military authorities described as an Iranian-made Shahed-136 drone, which was shot down in Ukraine’s Kharkiv region. (Picture source Ukraine MoD)

Citing information from the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, air defense units of the Ukrainian army will have destroyed 16 Shahed-136 suicide drones. Despite all this evidence, Iran continues to deny the delivery of military equipment to Russia.

Citing information from Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky Russia has ordered 2,400 Iranian-made Shahed-136 suicide drones from Iran.

Following the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the Iranian leadership has backed Russia and blamed the outbreak of war on NATO and the West. Since the eruption of the conflict, the reactions of senior regime officials, high-ranking clerics and conservative Iranian media reflect a clear position asserting that the efforts of the West, led by the United States and NATO, to expand their influence eastward, posed a clear threat to Russia’s national security, and compelled it to act to preserve its vital interests. However, Iranian officials have also voiced concern about the continuation of the war, calling for reaching a solution through peaceful means and for an end to the war as soon as possible.

On October 18, 2022, Iran announced the delivery of surface-to-surface missiles and other drones. This information was relayed by the Reuters press agency via two Iranian diplomats. At the same, Iran has denied the delivery of Shahed-136 drones and Moscow has also denied that Iranian drones were used by their armed forces to target Ukraine.

The Shahed-136 is loitering ammunition developed by the Iranian defense industry that entered official y in service with the Iranian armed forces in 2021. The drone is designed to attack ground targets with an estimated range from 1,800 to 2,500 km.

The Shahed-136 suicide drone has a cropped delta-wing shape, with a central fuselage blending into the wings and stabilizing rudders at the tips. The nose section contains the warhead estimated to weigh 30–50 kg. The engine is located at the rear of the fuselage and drives a two-bladed propeller in a "pusher" arrangement.

The Shahed-136 drone has a length of 3.5 m with a wingspan of 2.5 m. It can fly at a maximum speed of 185 km/h and weighs about 200 kg. It has an estimated range between 1,800 and 2,500 km which gives a loitering capability although this mode is limited by a radio signal range of about 150 km in receiving the new GPS target position.

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