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The Five Most Deadly Drone Powers in the World


USA, Russia, China, Israel, Iran

Whatever threat Iran may pose to Middle East stability, the Islamic Republic is rarely mentioned in lists of cutting edge technology. Iran regularly boasts of extremely sophisticated systems (recall the Qaher 313 “stealth fighter”), and many of its claims on military technology need to be taken with a grain of salt.

But on drones, Iran punches well above its technological weight. Iran has struggled with putting together the systems needed to deploy a tactical attack drone, but it’s done a good job with affordable, reliable engines and airframes. Iran’s experience shows that modest investment can, in the right circumstances, have a high payoff. Iran has used drones extensively in Syria and Iraq, supplying the Iraqi and Syrian governments with recon data and identifying targets for manned airstrikes. Altogether, Iran probably has more operational experience with drones than any country other than Israel or the United States.

Iran has also had success in exporting its drones to proxies, such as Hezbollah, where they mostly play the same ISR role. Hezbollah has experimented with suicidal drones (not quite the same thing as cruise missiles, but not that far off), and Israel can probably anticipate a more complex aerial environment in the next Lebanon conflict.


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