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Iran unveils new prototype of Shahed 149 Gaza drone.

| 2023

According to a tweet by the IRNA News Agency on July 23, 2023, a new prototype of the Iranian drone Shahid-149, nicknamed "Gaza," was unveiled during a visit by a group of students to the Karimi Air Base in Kashan. This drone is described as an advanced high-altitude, long-endurance unmanned combat aircraft, which, once deployed, is intended to enhance Iran's intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) capabilities.

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Iran unveils new prototype of Shahed 149 Gaza drone 925  Iran unveils new prototype of Shahed 149 Gaza drone, which shares similarities with the American MQ-9 Reaper (Picture source: IRNA News Agency)

The Shahed 149 Gaza, an Iranian unmanned combat aerial vehicle (UCAV) operated by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard, was unveiled on May 21, 2021, and delivered to the IRGC Aerospace Force in 2022. The drone shares similarities in size and role with the American MQ-9 Reaper.

The Gaza drone is classified as a high-altitude, long-endurance UAV and is a development of the Shahed 129. It has a flight duration of 35 hours, a range of 2,000 km (1,200 miles), a 21-meter wingspan, and a cruise speed of 350 km/h. Notably, it is the first Iranian UAV powered by a turboprop engine.

In terms of armament capabilities, the Shahed 149 Gaza can carry 13 bombs and up to 500 kg of electronic equipment, utilizing an internal atrium and a rotating arm release device.

Regarding its history, the drone was first mentioned on Twitter by a defense reporter for Tasnim News on February 23, 2020. It was officially unveiled in May 2021 and successfully passed its flight tests in April 2022 before being accepted for service.

The Gaza drone's avionics include electro-optical/infrared sensors, a day-vision camera with significant zoom capabilities, a thermal imager camera, a laser rangefinder, and environmental monitoring within a radius of 500 km. Additionally, it has the capability to detect stealth aircraft up to a radius of 500 km and is equipped with a satellite communication antenna.

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