IRAN: IRGC’s Rising Drone Threat
A Desperate Regime’s Ploy to Project Power, Incite War
• Iran experts praise the new NCRI’s book (see below)
• Where to purchase (see below)
In that the clerical regime in Iran lacks the military capability to build advanced weaponry, it has resorted to the production of weapons and equipment that can be used for terrorist and war-mongering activities intended to advance its policy of creating crises and fueling terrorism. One such weapon, in the production and export of which the regime has invested heavily in recent years, is a variety of drones, or unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs).
This manuscript offers a review of the most important organs of production, use and export of UAVs by the regime, and in particular the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC).
In the first chapter, entitled “Production of UAVs,” the history of the IRGC’s production of the earliest types of UAVs during the Iran-Iraq War is reviewed, after which the Quds Air Industries, affiliated with the Air Industries Organization in the Ministry of Defense, and 7 other related bodies became involved in such production. Next, the ways in which equipment is smuggled from abroad and the production of various parts are explained. A variety of UAVs used by the IRGC to ignite war and terrorism are then introduced.
The second chapter, entitled “Utilization of UAVs,” offers a brief overview of how the IRGC has used drones historically and outlines the various organs that employ UAVs. Among them is the UAV Command under the IRGC Aerospace Force, which has various UAV centers across Iran. It is the most important entity for training and using UAVs. Other military and law enforcement agencies that utilize UAVs are also named in this chapter.
In the third chapter, entitled “Using UAVs to incite war and terrorism,” the utilization of UAVs for the advancement of terrorist policies and regional meddling by the IRGC’s Quds Force is discussed. The Quds Force Intelligence and Training directorates have dedicated certain sections to the production as well as training and export of UAVs to other countries in the region. The IRGC’s drone command center was directly involved in the attack on the Saudi Aramco oil refinery. The IRGC also continues to export drones to Syria, Iraq, Lebanon, and Yemen. UAV parts are flown to these countries in IRGC planes as well as shipped through land crossings and are subsequently assembled in the host countries. Local mercenaries from these countries receive training at IRGC Aerospace Force locations in Iran.
The findings make clear that the reason for the IRGC’s focus on the production and use of drones lies in the fundamental military weaknesses of the regime when it comes to modern warfare. On the other hand, the IRGC has used drones, much like its missile program, as an instrument to instigate conflict and terrorism in the region in order to keep the clerical dictatorship in power.
Iran experts praise the new NCRI’s book
The Iranian development of a full-scale UAV and armed drone program represents an increased danger to U.S. troops in the Middle East. What should scare us all, is the possession of these sophisticated weapons in the hands of a regime that considers “terrorism” an element of its national power. The following pages describe in detail the massive investment that has gone into the Iranian drone eff ort. The civilized world, once again, is indebted to the MEK movement for “raising the curtain” on projects within Iran that are fully intended to raise havoc in the region.— Gen. James T. Conway, USMC (Ret), the 34th Commandant of the U.S. Marine Corps
This report is informed by numerous sources inside Iran, primarily members of the People’s Mujahedeen of Iran (MEK) who, at risk of their own lives, have worked to expose from within the true nature of the religious dictatorship that seeks to destabilize the region through force while brutally repressing its own people, the fi rst and foremost victims of the regime. The principal strategic value of UAVs to the regime is best understood in the broader geostrategic context. Having lost all legitimacy at home, the regime sees its very survival as a function of its ability to export its infl uence and ideology outside of Iran. Drones, like ballistic missiles, serve this purpose by providing a means of intimidation and attack. Today, the mullahs’ desperation is palpable — we can see it in the calls across Iran for an end to the intolerant and corrupt regime. Policies of appeasement must be rejected as they will only serve to prolong the life of the regime, its external aggression and its domestic brutality.— Ambassador Robert Joseph, Ph.D., Former Under Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security
Thanks for that characteristically compelling report, in this case about the Iranian drone program. I must say that what you’ve just presented, and I’m sure the written report backs it up, reminds us that the NCRI-US is not just an advocacy group but it also has become a respected think tank, you might say, and even beyond that a kind of independent intelligence agency whose reports have attained credibility. And that’s really contributed to the effort to improve the lives of the people of Iran and also to make the region and the world, including the United States, safer from the threats represented by the current regime in Tehran. So, I thank you Alireza and thank all who work with you at NCRI-US.— Senator Joe Lieberman, former Democratic senator from Connecticut
Serving as an intelligence officer, I also want to thank the NCRI. You are in essence an intelligence organization, collecting at great peril information inside a despotic environment in which you can quite literally say take no prisoners when it comes to collecting on the UAV program and many of the other aspects that you are engaged in. And then find a way to share this with the public and have that awareness created by the great work that you are doing in terms of sensitizing the world as it pertains to the activity of this despotic regime.— Mr. David Shedd, former Acting Director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, former Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director for Intelligence Programs and Reform
I have been focused on the Iranian nuclear challenge, in and out of government over the past 20 years. … I did want to begin also by congratulating NCRI on this report. It’s really amazing, I think, over the past 20 years the kind of information NCRI has been able to provide on the Iranian regime’s activities, going back to some very foundational revelations on the nuclear program almost 20 years ago, and all the way to this report today. And if you haven’t read it yet, I would recommend that you do. It’s really remarkable the level of detail they get into in terms of Iranian drone production capability.— Professor Matthew Kroenig, Georgetown, Deputy Director, Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security, and Director, Global Strategy Initiative, The Atlantic Council
I’m going to jump down a little bit to more operational considerations, which is Iran’s growing use of drones or UAVs. I would join my panelists in recommending the new book that’s been released today . As someone who’s been citing this issue for years, there just is a wealth of new information on the structure, roles, organization, capabilities of Iran’s growing drone program. And I’m really specifically going to pick up on one issue which the book lays out in great detail, which is Iran’s use of drones to project power around the Middle East. It gives it an ability to compensate for many of the internal inherent weaknesses of the regime that have already been laid out very well by the preceding panelists.— Mr. Jonathan Ruhe, JINSA Director of Foreign Policy
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