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Defense official says Iran self-sufficient in manufacturing drones, hails Russia as strategic partner

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
This file photo shows a domestically-built Shahed 129 UAV during the Eqtedar 40 defense exhibition in the Iranian capital, Tehran.

Iran’s deputy defense minister says the country has reached self-sufficiency in the production of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) as he hails military ties with Russia as a strategic partner.

Afshin Khajeh-Fard, who also heads Iran Aviation Industries Organization, made the remarks on Thursday while talking to IRNA at Iran’s pavilion in Russia's international aerospace exhibition, officially known as the International Aviation and Space Salon or MAKS 2021.

“We have made great progress in the area of [manufacturing] drones and we owe these advances to more than four decades of incessant work and indefatigable efforts by our youths,” he said.

“Today, we are self-sufficient in building drones from their fuselage to various subsystems and engines,” the Iranian official added.

Khajeh-Fard said, “We have broken considerable grounds with regard to UAV flight ceiling, their precision, automatic takeoff and landing, as well as nocturnal missions.”

The Iranian deputy defense minister said the country has displayed only two of its UAV models at this year’s MAKS exhibition, but noted that “our UAV inventory is full with all versions and we have competitive products.”

'We regard Russia as strategic partner'

In response to IRNA's question about Iran's technical and military relations with Russia, Khajeh-Fard said, "We regard Russia as a strategic partner. Our cooperation has taken a very good turn in various aspects.”

The Iranian official added, “We have a long history of cooperation with Russia in the aviation industry and we will definitely expand this cooperation. To that end, we have good strategies and plans on the agenda.”

The 15th International Aviation and Space Salon MAKS started on Tuesday with the active presence of the Islamic Republic of Iran and 55 other countries at the Zhukovsky Air Exhibition Complex in eastern Moscow.

The international exhibition, which runs from July 20 to 25, is attended by the Iranian Defense Ministry and 35 knowledge-based companies of the Islamic Republic featuring their latest scientific and technological achievements.

Iran has always had an active and significant presence in the Russia exhibition.

Last month, Major General Hossein Salami, the chief commander of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC), hailed Iran’s achievements in different fields, saying the country is in possession of drones that have a range of 7,000 kilometers. 

Salami said Iran has decided to be among the best in all fields, from science to technology and today it is among the pioneer and leading countries in many fields.

Back in May, the IRGC unveiled three important and strategic products in the fields of unmanned aerial vehicle and air defense system — the super heavy combat drone Gaza, the “9th of Dey” surface-to-air missile system and the "Qods" radar system.

The IRGC had earlier unveiled seven domestically-developed high-tech military achievements, including air defense systems, UAVs and electronic warfare devices.

Iranian military experts and technicians have in recent years made great progress in developing and manufacturing a broad range of domestically-manufactured equipment, making the armed forces self-sufficient in this regard.

Iranian officials have repeatedly underscored that the Islamic Republic will not hesitate to build up its defense capabilities, emphasizing such abilities are entirely meant for the purpose of defense and will be never subject to negotiations.

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