Iran’s new spy drone is an Israeli Hermes 450/Watchkeeper clone. Capable of carrying missiles.

It looks like Iran’s new UAV (unmanned aerial vehicle), disclosed by recent pictures and, more in details, by the footage recently aired by Press TV, has nothing to do with the U.S. stealth RQ-170 captured in December 2011.

Although the details of its internal equipment, sensor array and ground control station are still unknown (therefore it’s almost impossible to rule out the possibility that the new drone has some features in common with the Sentinel crash landed last year) the new “Shahed 129” is largely based on the Israeli Hermes 450 model, rather than the Sentinel.

Same shape, size, landing gear type and performance. Only the wing mounting is slightly different from the Israeli MALE (Medium Altitude Long Endurance) spy robot, but quite similar to the one of the Watchkeeper WK450, the Hermes version used for Intelligence, Surveillance, Target Acquisition and Reconnaissance (ISTAR) purposes by the British Army.

The new remotely piloted vehicle is claimed to have an endurance of 24 hours and an operative range up to 2,000 kilometers. Noteworthy, unlike the Hermes or the Watchkeeper, the domestic built Shahed 129 is claimed to be able to carry weapons making it a real UCAV (Unmanned Combat Aerial Vehicle), even if the first images surfaced so far don’t show any underwing pylon nor missile/bomb.

Considered the similarities between the Shahed and the Hermes design, there are some chances that the Iranians have not only captured a U.S. stealthy drone but maybe also some Israeli or British Hermes/Watchkeeper involved in a covert mission (as claimed last year), that they were really able to reverse engineer.


About David Cenciotti 4451 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. Shahed 129 is a copy of Hermes 450 !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!?????????????
    Hermes Range : 200 km
    Shahed 129 Range : 2000 km

    • Hermes can achieve a range near that too. But the problem is communications. This drone probably uses the autopilot system used in Karrar to cover the ranges beyond communication equipment’s range.

  2. Are these comments REALLY about whether the Shahed or Hermes is a more capable aircraft??? First off, show me something that the Iranians have built that actually has the capability to FLY and I’ll listen. Even with capturing a drone belonging to the US or anywhere else, technology is so far behind in Iran that they are simply unable to reverse engineer anything that’s been made in the last 20 years. Frankly, you’re doing a disservice to the Iranian rulers but making them believe that they’re capable of any of this, which they clearly aren’t.

  3. They just copy the shape of body and I’m sure this drone is not capable of any thing!!!

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