Iran's new (amateur) surveillance drone unveiled

Updated Dec. 27 10.00 GMT

Since Dec. 4, I’ve been constantly monitoring Iranian media for pictures, news releases or statements about the U.S. RQ-170 Sentinel drone captured by Iran.

Even if the news of the once stealthy American drone are slightly fading, on Dec. 26, the Islamic Republic News Agency IRNA, published the images of an electric rone built by students of Islamic Azad University in the city of Heris, East Azarbaijan province.

Similar to a small-scale Learjet business jet (actually, almost identical to the Hondajet as suggested by its markings) sitting on a table, the ultra-light amateur drone is capable of flying 35-minute reconnaissance missions at night, with a maximum speed of 250 km/h and a minimum of 50 km/h. It can cover a distance of 10 km and operate at an altitude of 9,000 feet.

Powered by two electric engines and capable of flying on a single engine, the drone can scan the ground and dispatch the data to a ground station. As reported by the IRNA, according to the Head of the technical team involved in manufacturing the drone, Nasser Nazari Heris, it took only four months to design and manufacture the drone.

Although this drone will remain an amateur project with no military significance, it gives us once again the opportunity to notice that, since it has showed the first (and only) images of the “Beast of Kandahar”,  the regime is stepping up the propaganda war, with frequent statements about Iran’s capability to “hack” and take over remote control of U.S. drones (although the Sentinel may have crash-landed in Iran because of technical failure) or reverse engineer the RQ-170 to build its own drones.

In the meanwhile, on Dec. 24, Iran’s Navy launched the massive 10-day naval exercise “Velayat 90” in the area stretching from the east of the Strait of Hormuz in the Persian Gulf to the Gulf of Aden. Iranian submarines, warships, and other naval vessels with their accompanying helicopters are attending the drills. I’ve read no reports about drones taking part to the exercise. So far.

Image source: IRNA

Stay tuned.

This, along with all the previous articles on the Sentinel drone in Iran, can be found at the following link (click and scroll down):

About David Cenciotti 4453 Articles
David Cenciotti is a freelance journalist based in Rome, Italy. He is the Founder and Editor of “The Aviationist”, one of the world’s most famous and read military aviation blogs. Since 1996, he has written for major worldwide magazines, including Air Forces Monthly, Combat Aircraft, and many others, covering aviation, defense, war, industry, intelligence, crime and cyberwar. He has reported from the U.S., Europe, Australia and Syria, and flown several combat planes with different air forces. He is a former 2nd Lt. of the Italian Air Force, a private pilot and a graduate in Computer Engineering. He has written four books.


  1. David, I’m hammered tonight but is not that picture a model on a table? I think that Iran is no kind of problem, and that the hellish beliefs of the right wing and Israelis are just that. I think that Iran would be demolished in a day, and what the fuck would that prove?

    Their main guy now now, said in whatever their language is, that Israel should not be existing now. So I understand. And I agree. Although, I love your photos. Brother died young whilst flying. And I am still enough of a boy to like the wickedness of the aircraft.

  2. I still feel there is a discrepancy between Iran’s usual displays/parades/exercises and supposed high tech quality of their military equipment and then the images we are shown. Nice model, I am sure there are plenty of small clubs/high schools or universities around the world that can do that. Kind of reminds me of the modified twin tail F5 which Iran claims to be comparable to an F18.

    Anyways, why haven’t we seen more of the RQ? They have had enough time to move it to a secure location, dismantle it and show us the insides, the electronics, the engine,etc….The only thing we have seen so far is that small video, that’s it, it’s a bit thin. For me, I believe Iran should be showing that thing 24/7, really milking it to the world, not a 2 minute video and that’s it….I still believe that they have a “drone” but I am getting a bit suspicious…..

    • Interesting, thank you.
      Maybe it took four months to put the camera or “scanning” devices on board the model.
      Either way, the funny thing is the attempt to advertise capabilities in UAS technology.

      • I’m shocked by the implication that Iran might stoop so low as to buy a pre-finished model. Maybe this is evidence of the true impact of international trade sanctions.

        • the “drone” you linked to seems to have ar cockpit window too, which suggests that it to is a scale model fitted with surveillance equipment.

          I suppose those displays of ingenuity are mainly for domestic consumption. Something about showing the peoples commitment to defend the country. And I seriously doubt the statement that the “drone” will be able to carry any arms. Nothing larger than a hand-grenade anyway.

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