TEHRAN, Iran (AP) — Iran’s Defense Ministry unveiled a drone on Tuesday resembling America’s armed MQ-9 Reaper, claiming that the aircraft is capable of staying airborne for 24 hours and has the range to reach the country’s archenemy Israel.
Iran’s state-run IRNA news agency published a photograph of the drone, called the Mohajer-10, on display at a conference marking Defense Industry Day with what appeared to be smoke-machine fog underneath it.
“Mohajer” means “immigrant” in Farsi and has been a drone line manufactured by the Islamic Republic since 1985.
IRNA said the drone is able to fly up to 24,000 feet with a speed of 210 kph (130 mph), carrying a bomb payload of up to 300 kilograms (660 pounds). It also said the drone could carry electronic surveillance equipment and a camera. Iran’s hard-line President Ebrahim Raisi, a protégé of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, also viewed the drone on Tuesday.
“Today, we can firmly introduce Iran as an advanced and technologic nation to the world,” Raisi said in comments aired on state television.
He reiterated Iran’s stance about friendly relations with “all countries in the world,” adding that Iran’s armed forces will cut off any hand that will reaches out in an attempt to invade Iran, state TV reported.
The Associated Press could not immediately verify the claims about the drone’s capabilities, though an arm of state television shared a video of it taking off from a runway. Long-range drones like the Reaper also require ground stations and satellite communications.
Officials in Israel, which flies its own long-range, high endurance drones, did not immediately respond to a request for comment Tuesday.
Iran has in the past captured U.S. drones or pieces of them, but there’s no evidence that it has taken a General Atomics’ Reaper, which is flown by the U.S. Air Force and allied American nations as a “hunter-killer” drone that can operate at high altitudes for long hours and follow a target before attacking. North Korea in July showed off drones mirroring the Reaper, possibly designed from publicly available information about the aircraft.
In December 2011, Iran seized an RQ-170 Sentinel flown by the CIA to monitor Iranian nuclear sites after it entered Iranian airspace from neighboring Afghanistan. Iran later reverse-engineered the drone to create their own variants.