Iran's Islamic Revolution Guards Corps Ground Forces have established an organization specializing in using drones in military operations.
“We… have set up a drone center and organization, which has bases in operational areas, and is currently active,” Commander of IRGC Ground Forces Brigadier General Mohammad Pakpour told Tasnim news agency on Sunday.
The IRGC Ground Forces possesses and has used various state-of-the-art military equipment, including combat drones, in different maneuvers showcasing the country’s defense prowess.
The IRGC Ground Forces started three-day massive military drills, codenamed Payambar-e-A’azam 11 (Great Prophet 11), on February 20 in northeastern Iran with its motto being “demonstration of power and enduring stability.”
The maneuvers featured the IRGC’s drone, artillery, air defense, and infantry units.
IRGC Ground Forces also practiced reconnaissance missions using the Corps’ drones.
In October 2016, the IRGC unveiled a combat unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV), called Saeqeh (Thunderbolt). Saeqeh is a long-range drone capable of carrying four smart and precision-guided bombs and can strike targets with high precision.
It is one of the Simorgh-class drones, which is the Iranian version of the US RQ-170 Sentinel stealth aircraft.
In December 2012, the IRGC captured a US ScanEagle drone over the Persian Gulf waters upon its intrusion into the Iranian airspace.
In the same month the previous year, Iran downed a US RQ-170 Sentinel stealth aircraft with minimal damage. The drone was flying over the Iranian city of Kashmar, near the Afghan border, when it was brought down.
Almost three years later, the Islamic Republic produced its own version of the RQ-170 drone.
Iran is now in possession of a broad range of UAVs, which can be used for both civilian and military purposes.