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A report from a weapons research group indicates that Russia has started making copies of attack drones obtained from Iran in the previous year and has been using them against Ukraine.
The researchers from the Conflict Armament Research (CAR) inspected the wreckage of two attack drones that were used in combat in southeastern Ukraine. Both appeared to be Iranian Shahed-136s, but they also contained electronic modules that matched those from Russian-made surveillance drones.
Iranian-made Shahed kamikaze drones have been one of Russia’s most effective weapons. On Aug. 3, President Volodymyr Zelensky said that Russia had launched almost 2,000 Shaheds at Ukraine.
The Russian-made versions of the Shahed-136 are commonly marked as Geran-2. The research group documented over 100 components spanning more than 30 unique models across the two Geran-2 UAVs, marked with the brands of 22 different companies based in 7 countries, including Russia. Most of the components that CAR documented bore the brands of companies headquartered in China, Switzerland, and the United States.
While Iranian Shahed-136 drones marked Geran-2 have previously been recovered in Ukraine, the report suggests that Russian-made copies with the same name are now in use.
"Almost a year after the first use of Iranian-manufactured UAVs in Ukraine, evidence that the Russian Federation has begun producing its own domestic versions marks a significant evolution in the country’s UAV capabilities that will allow it to sustain its reliance on single-use UAVs," reads the report.
Recent media reports claimed that the Russian Federation sought to produce its domestic version of the Shahed UAV by early 2024. CAR’s findings indicate that this production may have already started.