Iran develops Ababil-T – a 2,000-km range stealth attack drone
Defense Minister Gen. Ahmad Vahidi warned Sunday, Oct. 28, in Tehran: “The drone was definitely not the latest Iranian technology.” debkafile: He was talking about the drone which Iran and Hizballah sent over Israeli airspace on Oct. 6 and stressing that it was not the last word in their UAV armory – or even the last to invade Israel’s skies.
According to our military sources, in mid-September, Tehran secretly shipped to Lebanon a batch of dismantled Ababil-T UAVs although the Iranians could not be sure that Israel would not discover their location and its air force bomb them before they were launched. The Syrian war is also making it hard to maintain permanent Iranian launching teams in Lebanon.
However, Iran is making great strides in producing drones with more capabilities and longer ranges. During the 2006 Lebanon War, Hizballah launched an earlier model of the Ababil to bomb Tel Aviv. It was shot down by the Israeli Air Force. Since then, the Iranians have produced the more advanced Ababil-T for short and medium range attack and Ababils-B and –S.
Our military sources identify Ababil-T as Iran’s most advanced drone in operational service. It has electronic warfare, military intelligence-gathering and online transmission capabilities suited to conditions of front-line battle. It is designed to disable enemy electronic systems in combat, especially those of the United States and Israel.
Ababil means “swallow,” after the story in the Koran of an enemy sending a herd of elephants to attack the Qaaba in Mecca and the swallows released by Allah for defeating them.
Its prototype had a maximum flying range of 150 kilometers, an altitude 4.2 kilometers and it could stay aloft for 10 hours at a stretch. Iranian engineers have rapidly improved its velocity and range. But until recently, they were not known to have figured out how to produce a drone able to cover the distance to Israel in direct flight without a staging-post in Lebanon. They dared not let their prize Ababil-T cut through Iraq or Turkey because it risked interception by the American or NATO forces stationed in those countries.
This obstacle appears to have been overcome by the last upgraded Ababil, according to Gen. Vahidi…more here