Iran developed a new class of drones, able to conduct reconnaissance and bombardment missions, a top Iranian military official said on Sunday, hours after Tehran's defense minister lauded Hezbollah for sending an unmanned aircraft into Israeli airspace.
Last week, Israeli Air Force jets shot down an unidentified aerial vehicle that penetrated Israel's airspace, with IDF forces shot down the drone over the Negev, south of Mount Hebron. Hezbollah claimed responsibility for the drone mission, saying the craft was made by Iran.
Commenting on the incident earlier Sunday, Iranian Defense Minister Gen. Ahmad Vahid applauded Hezbollah's efforts against Israel, saying it proved Iran's military capabilities.
Vahidi said Iran believed Hezbollah had the right to launch the drone into Israeli airspace since Israel's warplanes repeatedly violate Lebanese airspace".
Iran has said the incursion exposed the weakness of Israeli air defence, indicating that Israel's Iron Dome anti-missile defence system "does not work and lacks the necessary capacity."
Speaking later in the day, the commander of Iran’s Khatam al-Anbiya Air Defense Base Brigadier General Farzad Esmaili told Iranian media that Iranian exporters have developed and built a new drone, capable of undertaking both reconnaissance and attack missions.
According to Esmaili, the new craft, called Haazem, was produced in three short, mid and long range models, adding that the drone could be equipped with missiles and used for aerial bombardments.
Last month, a top Iranian official claimed that Iran's security forces were mounting missiles on another type of independently produced long-range drone, adding that Iran managed to obtain technical information from the U.S. stealth drone that was captured by the Islamic Republic late last year.
In 2010, Iran unveiled a prototype long-range unmanned bomber, with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad saying at the time that Iran should seek the ability to make preemptive strikes against a perceived threat, although he said it would never strike first.
According to a report in Iran's state-run television network Press TV last month, Iranian forces have already included the Karrar in the recent Prophet 7 military drill that took place in July.
Speaking to Press TV, Iran's deputy defense minister Mohammad Eslami indicated that the now active craft was also being fitted with weapons, saying that according to the Defense Ministry’s "plans, we are currently mounting missiles on these drones."
In addition, the report also cited Eslami as claiming Iran was able to obtain what the report said "valuable technical information" from U.S. RQ-170 stealth drone.
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