Iran Unveils Indigenous Kaman 22 Armed Drone. But It Looks Like an American MQ-9 Reaper Rip-Off

The Kaman-22 compared to the MQ-9 Reaper. (Composite image made by The Aviationist on Twitter and USAF photos)

The new Kaman 22 drone is clearly inspired by the American MQ-9 Reaper UAV (Unmanned Aerial Vehicle), although probably smaller in size.

As announced at the beginning of the month, Tehran has eventually unveiled the Kaman 22 UAV, “the first wide-body drone in the country”. Images of the new drone during a visit of Brigadier General Aziz Nasirzadeh, Commander of the IRIAF (Islamic Republic of Iran Air Force) provide a glimpse to the homegrown unmanned aircraft, with some weapons loaded on the external pylons and a few more bombs and pods on display next to the UAV, said to have a range of 3,000 kilometers, endurance of +24 hours and ability to carry 300 kg of payload.

“This drone is equipped with combat and optical cargo and is designed based on the operational needs of the Air Force and is in the final stages of production,” said the Commander of the IRIAF.

Take a look at the images. The resemblance to the American MQ-9 Reaper is pretty evident, although probably smaller in size (in the MQ-1 Predator class).

The Kaman shares with the successful U.S. drone the overall shape: the main differences appear to be in the nose landing gear, the wingtips and the concavity of the nose hump. The UAV seems to carry an unknown ventral pod along with six (four guided and two unguided) bombs.

Front comparison of an MQ-9 and the Kaman-22. (Composite image made by The Aviationist on Twitter and USAF photos)

Along with the aircraft, an array of weapons and pods are shown next to the aircraft: one appears to be a GBU-12 Paveway LGB (Laser Guided Bomb) and another one seems to be an AN/ALQ-101 ECM pod lookalike.

Iran is not unfamiliar with domestic modifications to western drones: they have been able to recover/capture some U.S. remotely piloted aircraft, including a Scan Eagle (and the famous stealthy RQ-170).

Apart from the already known Shahed-129, a Medium Altitude Long Endurance (MALE) UAV that appears to be a hybrid of the Israeli Hermes 450 and the US MQ-1/9 Predator, the Shahed 181 and Shahed 191, are also drone developed from the RQ-170 captured by Iran in 2011. The American stealthy UAV, dubbed the “Beast of Kandahar” when it was first spotted in Afghanistan in 2007, was either hijacked via GPS spoofing, as claimed by Iran, or, most likely, crash landed because of an unknown failure and later found by the IRGC.

About David Cenciotti
David Cenciotti is a 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 five books and contributed to many more ones.