Sunday, August 22, 2010

Iran Unveils Domestically Produced Bomber Drone

Iranian leaders on Aug. 22 unveiled a bomber drone with a range of up to 1,000 kilometers (621 miles), touting the Islamic republic's home-grown capacity to resist attack, state media reported.

"This jet, before it heralds death for enemies, is the messenger of salvation and dignity for humanity," Ahmadinejad said in a speech at the unveiling in a hall at Tehran's Malek Ashtar university.

The broadcast showed the high-speed unmanned aircraft in flight, while Fars news agency quoted Defense Minister Ahmad Vahidi as saying the drone had a range of up to 1,000 kilometers.

State television said the drone was built to "carry and fire four stealth cruise missiles... and, depending on the mission, it can carry two bombs of 250 pounds each or a precision missile of 500 pounds."

Ahmadinejad said Iran's defense abilities "should reach a point where we can cut off the aggressor's arm before he acts, and if we miss, we should destroy him before he hits the target."

"The main message of the Karar bomber is to prevent any kind of aggression and conflict" against Iran, which is embroiled in a standoff with the West over its nuclear program, he added.

The drone was unveiled on Iran's annual Defense Industry Day, and two days after it test-fired a surface-to-surface missile also built domestically, called the Qiam ("Rising").

Iran is expected to follow up with series of military announcements during the nation's "government week," a period when Tehran boasts of its latest technological achievements.

The country is also expected to test-fire a third generation Fateh ("Conqueror") 110 missile, after having already paraded a version with a range of 90 to 125 miles (150 to 200 kilometers).

The production lines for two missile-carrying speedboats, Seraj and Zolfaqar, are also due to be inaugurated.

Karar's unveiling came days after Iran took delivery of four domestically built Ghadi mini-submarines, a "stealth" vessel designed to operate in shallow waters such as the Arabian Gulf.

The moves coincide with Iranian warnings against any attack. The United States and Israel have not ruled out taking military action over Tehran's controversial nuclear program.

On Aug. 21, Iran began loading nuclear fuel in its first nuclear power plant. The Russian-built reactor in the southern port of Bushehr, which is not targeted by U.N. sanctions, aims to generate 1,000 megawatts of electricity.

On the military front, Gen. Ali Fadavi, a naval commander of Iran's elite Revolutionary Guards, said earlier this month that the country is to mass-produce replicas of the Bladerunner 51, often termed the world's fastest boat.

"The Bladerunner is a British ship that holds the world speed record. We got a copy [on which] we made some changes so it can launch missiles and torpedoes," he said.

Iran will make the strategic, oil-rich Gulf region unsafe if it comes under attack over it nuclear program, Yadollah Javani, deputy chief of the Guards, said at the start of August.

The Guards were established after the 1979 Islamic revolution to defend the regime from internal and external threats.

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