Russia is Now Using Iranian Suicide Drones Against Ukraine

Wes O'Donnell
3 min readSep 14, 2022
The Shahed-136 loitering munition. Similar to the US Switchblade drone that the US provided Ukraine. Public domain.

Back in July, US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan said that Iran was preparing to provide Russia with hundreds of drones, some capable of being armed with weapons.

By August, Russia has sent hundreds of Iranian drones to the front lines.

Now, it looks like we have our first direct evidence of Russian implementation of Iranian-made drones in Ukraine.

According to US intelligence, the drones are the Shahed 171, the Shahed 129, and the 191.

The 191 is a large Delta-wing-shaped drone, and the Shahed 129 looks like the US Predator drone — essentially a small plane.

The Ukrainians released information yesterday that they had shot down what appears to be a Shahed-136 — a loitering munition or suicide drone akin to the Switchblade drone that the US provided to Ukraine at the start of the war.

Detailed information about the drone is sparse.

But Iran claims a speed of 185 km/hour and a range of 2500 km!

That range is doubtful given the drone’s weight of 200 kg.

Its engine is the Chinese MD 550 which, by the way, can be bought on AliExpress:

Author screen grab.

There is no information from Iran on the explosive payload but it need only be large enough to kill or maim lightly armored soldiers.

Once Ukraine has a chance to investigate the wreckage more closely, we should have some more concrete specifications and distinguish between what’s real and what’s Iranian propaganda.

Photos taken by Ukraine of the destroyed drone show Cyrillic inscriptions reading “М214 Geran-2” — a Russian name. This shows some effort by the Russians to disguise its Iranian origins.

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Wes O'Donnell

Army & Air Force Veteran | Global Security guy at War is Boring, GEN, OneZero | Intel Forecaster | Law Student | TEDx Speaker | Pro-Democracy | Pro-Human Rights